Lumps of coal found on the edge of the Wollemi National Park were taken from the middle of a dirt road that runs through the Newnes State Forest in the Blue Mountains, NSW. Coal mines deep below extend underground into sensitive areas. Custom tables made in Haines’ workshop house the emission of these gaseous rocks into the gallery space. The aroma of damp earth (petrichor) fills the gallery space.

Geosmin, a relatively hard to obtain aromatic molecule is isolated from a harmless bacterium and mixed into a number of modifying aroma chemicals. These relatively non smelly chemicals give silage and body to a fragrance. Everyone who smells the fragrance gets this damp earthy smell immediately, and most seem to like it. Haines posits if this is because in the distant past, our noses were much closer to the ground? Scientists believe that humans can detect geosmin at about 1 part per billion in the air.


David Haines lives and works in the Blue Mountains, Australia. Haines has produced works for museums, festivals and galleries in Australia and internationally including Anderson Gallery, UC Buffalo, USA (2017); Resonances Magnetique, La Panacee Centre for Contemporary Art, Montpellier, France (2016); Energies: Haines & Hinterding, MCA, Sydney (2015) and Christchurch Art Gallery, NZ (2016);  Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne (2015); La Panacee Centre for Contemporary Art, France (2014); Dutch Institute of Time-based Arts; Taipei MOCA; Kuandu Museum of Fine Art; San Jose Museum of Art; Art Gallery of NSW; Wellington City Gallery; Dunedin Public Art Gallery; Gallery of Modern Art Queensland; Sendai Media Tech, Japan; FACT Liverpool England; Sao Paulo Biennale (2004); Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art (2004); Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2003);  13th Biennale of Sydney (2002); Scott Donovan Gallery, Sydney (2002); Te Papa National Museum of NZ (2002); ACMI, Melbourne (2002 & 2003); The Physics Room, NZ (1998); Artspace Sydney (1997 & 2005); ZA MOCA Foundation Tokyo (1996); Artspace, Auckland; Tate Gallery Liverpool (1993).

Slow Fast Mountains (earth aroma) 2014
Aroma, Geological specimens, steel plynths, sound.
Dimensions variable

Courtesy of the artist and Sarah Cottier Gallery.