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Poverty in Spain: French perfumer ‘distils’ the scent of one of Seville’s poorest neighborhoods | Culture

Voice Of EU



If, as the French perfumer Barnabé Fillion says, “a good perfume has the capacity to take you on a journey,” his latest creation, Jardines en el Aire (or Gardens in the Air), is a trip around the world that begins in one of Europe’s poorest neighborhoods, Tres Barrios-Amate in the Spanish city of Seville.

Fillion, a renowned scent designer who has worked with top brands like Aēsop, Paul Smith, and Comme des Garçons, recently collaborated in a multicultural project that has “distilled” some of the plants that grow around the run-down buildings in this underprivileged neighborhood where some of its 18,000 residents come from Asia, Africa and South America. Children from the neighborhood’s Candelaria Educational and Social Association worked on identifying and collecting the plants and sending them by mail to Fillion.

“This is a project about the evocation of a neighborhood which is defined by its diversity, experiences, testimonies and multiculturalism,” says Fillion, 39. “A neighborhood which is home to so many nationalities cannot be labeled as just one of the poorest in Spain. It has something to say about the world, its complexity and also its richness and the contemporary history of a country. Our approach has been to distil and produce the essence of empathy and cultural exchange.”

The perfume "Jardines en el aire" by Fillion.
The perfume “Jardines en el aire” by Fillion.LUCES DE BARRIO

The result is a unisex perfume that smells to Verónica Benítez, 15, “of the countryside;” to Juan Yameogo, 11, whose family hails from Burkina Faso, “of jasmine;” and to his brother Donald, 14, “of the corners of his neighborhood.”

They are just three of the 18 young people between the ages of eight and 16 who have participated in the Luces de Barrio (Neighborhood Lights) initiative launched by the City Council through Seville’s Institute of Culture and Arts (ICAS).

“The most complicated part of the process was finding the subtle balance between all the essences that best represent the cosmopolitan character of the neighborhood,” says Fillion.

Among the young participants, there are children from Morocco, the Netherlands, Ecuador and Colombia. Paula Bellido, 15, whose family is from Bolivia, was surprised by the number of different bird species in her neighborhood: 70, according to SEO Birdlife. Birds are the focus of another aspect of the project called Sinergias, a musical polyphony composed by Desirée Martín to celebrate the multiplicity of voices in Tres Barrios-Amate.

The overall aim is to make a role model out of Tres Barrios-Amate, which has high unemployment, drug dependency issues and the second-lowest per capita income in Spain (€5,389). According to the 2019 Urban Audit report, six of the 15 poorest neighborhoods in Spain are located in Seville. The list is headed by Polígono Sur, where the average annual income stands at €4,897. For Fillion, poverty needs to be fought as it reeks of “the indifference and contempt of a few people who are quick to stigmatize others.”

Sinergias, a musical polyphony by Desirée Martín, is also part of the project.
Sinergias, a musical polyphony by Desirée Martín, is also part of the project. LUCES DE BARRIO

Barnabé Fillion has based the perfume on the orange blossom from the bitter orange tree, of which there are 1,756 in the neighborhood, as well as on different incense aromas that remind him of the area. He has also used plants from five different continents, including the rose and rosemary (Europe), the cedar and the incense tree (Africa), the orange tree (Asia), the American pepper tree (America) and the red eucalyptus (Oceania). Their inclusion is a metaphor for the cultural diversity of this location, which lies to the east of the city and includes an urban park called Amate, which covers 32 hectares.

Jardines en el Aire has been produced by the Mane laboratories in Grasse, France, in a limited edition of just 333 bottles, which are being “given away” to those making a €50 to €100 donation to the art and nature workshops that will continue to be held by AES Candelaria. This makes it probably the cheapest perfume ever created by Fillion, whose career includes research with NASA to find out what the Moon smells like. “This perfume emanates from imagination and creativity and it leaves a fragrance that transmits ethical and ecological values,” says Fillion. “It is not a commercial product.”

According to the architect Sergio Rodríguez, curator of the Neighborhood Lights initiative and part of the Seville’s Nomad Garden collective along with architect Salas Mendoza and geographer Fran Pazos, “the whole project is an experiment to continue weaving an urban fabric that improves relations between species and so improves the general habitat. Despite the precarious living standards and the poor quality of housing, the neighborhood has a very cohesive social fabric and, despite the many different backgrounds, coexistence between people is not undermined.” Almost 8% of the 18,000 residents of Tres Barrios-Amate come from abroad, mostly Morocco, Romania and China.

Architects, geographers, urban planners, composers, musicians, instrument makers, designers, botanists, publicists, biologists and journalists have been working through the coronavirus pandemic since February 2020 on this ambitious project with a budget of €90,000. “The crisis has been a limitation, but also an incentive to create new realities,” says Rodríguez.

Neighborhood Lights includes a vertical garden at number 6 Candelilla Street that has converted 24 air conditioners into flower pots in which rosemary, asparagus, laurel, roses and jasmine grow while providing nesting spots for the birds in the area. “We take advantage of the water released by the air conditioners which, thanks to a motor, is stored in a tank on the roof of the building and then waters all the boxes,” explains Rodríguez. “It’s not just an ephemeral artistic project, but a prototype that we’re going to study in collaboration with the School of Architecture to see if it’s economically viable and can be developed further.”

English version by Heather Galloway.

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Census 2022 – what difference does it make?

Voice Of EU



Next Sunday, April 3rd, is Census night. Millions of people in homes countrywide will fill in page after page of questions, some of which are deeply personal and many of which might be unfamiliar.

But what it is it all about?

At a basic level, Census 2022 will be used to inform planning of public policy and services in the years ahead, according to the Central Statistics Office.

The questions will cover a range of environmental, employment and lifestyle issues, including the use of renewable energy sources in homes.

The questions will help inform policy development in the areas of energy and climate action, and the prevalence of internet access, to understand the availability of and need for internet connections and range of devices used to access the internet.

Questions also focus on changes in work patterns and will include the trend of working from home and childcare issues, while questions are also asked about the times individuals usually leave work, education or childcare, to help identify and plan for transport pattern needs locally and nationally.

Other topics covered include volunteering and the type of organisations volunteers choose to support, tobacco usage and the prevalence of smoke alarms in the home.

And of course there is a time capsule – the chance to write something which will be sealed for the next 100 years.

In this episode of In The News, the head of census administration Eileen Murphy and statistician Kevin Cunningham about what it all means for us.

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Oscars 2022: Will Smith makes Oscar history after slapping Chris Rock over joke about wife Jada Pinkett Smith | Culture

Voice Of EU



Will Smith took the Oscar for Best Actor at last night’s 94th Academy Awards, but he also became the protagonist of the ceremony for other reasons. The night was following the script, until Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on the stage after the latter made a joke about the shaved head of the former’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock had quipped that he was “looking forward to GI Jane 2,” in reference to her look. Pinkett Smith has revealed publicly that she has alopecia. It looked as if the moment had been planned, until Smith went back to his seat and shouted: “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”

The moment, which immediately became Oscar history but for all the wrong reasons, left the attendees with frozen smiles, and asking themselves whether it was possible that a veteran such as Smith could have lost his cool in front of tens of millions of people. After taking the prize for Best Actor, the superstar actor made a tearful apology, saying that he hoped the Academy “will invite me back.” Later on, actor Anthony Hopkins called for “peace and love,” but it was already too late. The incident overshadowed the success of CODA, which took the Oscar for Best Picture. Just like the time when Warren Beatty mistakenly named La La Land as the big winner of the night, no one will speak about anything else from last night’s awards.

At first sight, Smith’s actions looked as if they were scripted. When he first heard Rock’s joke, he laughed. But his wife was seen on camera rolling her eyes, and it was then that the actor got up onto the stage and hit Rock. When he returned to his seat he raised his voice twice to shout “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth,” sending a wave of unease and shock through the attending audience. The fact that he used the f-word, which is prohibited on US television, set alarm bells ringing that this was real and not a planned moment. In fact, the curse word was censored by the broadcaster, ABC, in the United States.

During a break, Smith’s PR manager approached him to speak. In the press room, which the actor skipped after collecting his prize, instructions were given to the journalists not to ask questions about the incident, Luis Pablo Beauregard reports. The next presenter, Sean “Diddy” Combs, tried to calm the situation. “Will and Chris, we’re going to solve this – but right now we’re moving on with love,” the rapper said.

When Smith took to the stage to collect his Best Actor award for his role as Richard Williams – the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena – in King Richard, he referred to the character as “a fierce defender of his family.” He continued: “I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. I know to do what we do you’ve got to be able to take abuse, and have people talk crazy about you and have people disrespecting you and you’ve got to smile and pretend it’s OK.”

He explained that fellow actor Denzel Washington, who also spoke to Smith during a break, had told him: “At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.”

“I want to be a vessel for love,” Smith continued. “I want to be an ambassador of that kind of love and care and concern. I want to apologize to the Academy and all my fellow nominees. […] I look like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams, but love will make you do crazy things,” he said. He then joked about his mother, who had not wanted to come to the ceremony because she had a date with her crochet group.

The Los Angeles Police Department released a statement last night saying that Chris Rock would not be filing any charges for assault against Smith. “LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program,” the statement read. “The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”

On December 28, Pinkett Smith spoke on social media about her problems with alopecia. She stated that she would be keeping her head shaved and would be dealing with the condition with humor. “Me and this alopecia are going to be friends… Period!” she wrote on Instagram.

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House-price inflation set to stay double digit for much of 2022

Voice Of EU



House-price inflation is expected to remain at double-digit levels for much of 2022 as the mismatch between what is for sale and what buyers want continues.

Two new reports on the housing market paint a picture of a sector under strain due to a lack of supply and increased demand driven by Covid-related factors such as remote working.

The two quarterly reports, one each from rival property websites and, suggest asking prices accelerated again in the first quarter of 2022 as the stock of homes available for sale slumped to a new record low.

Myhome, which is owned by The Irish Times, said annual asking-price inflation was now running at 12.3 per cent.


This put the median or typical asking price for a home nationally at €295,000, and at €385,000 in Dublin.

MyHome said the number of available properties for sale on its website fell to a record low of 11,200 in March, down from a pre-pandemic level of 19,000. The squeeze on supply, it said, was most acute outside Dublin, with the number of properties listed for sale down almost 50 per cent compared with pre-pandemic levels.

It said impaired supply and robust demand meant double-digit inflation is likely until at least mid-2022.

“Housing market conditions have continued to tighten,” said author of the myhome report, Davy chief economist Conall Mac Coille.

“The broad picture of the market in early 2022 remains similar to last year: impaired supply coupled with robust demand due to Ireland’s strong labour market,” he said.


“One chink of light is that new instructions to sell of 7,500 in the first 11 weeks of 2022 are well up from 4,800 in 2021, albeit still below the 9,250 in 2019. The flow of new properties therefore remains impaired,” said Mr Mac Coille.

“Whatever new supply is emerging is being met by more than ample demand. Hence, transaction volumes in January and February were up 13 per cent on the year but pushed the market into ever tighter territory,” he said.

He said Davy was now predicting property-price inflation to average 7 per cent this year, up from a previous forecast of 4.5 per cent, buoyed strong employment growth.


Daft, meanwhile, said house asking prices indicated the average listed price nationwide in the first quarter of 2022 was €299,093, up 8.4 per cent on the same period in 2021 and and just 19 per cent below the Celtic Tiger peak, while noting increases remain smaller in urban areas, compared to rural.

Just 10,000 homes were listed for sale on its website as of March 1st, an all-time low. In Dublin, Cork and Galway cities, prices in the first quarter of 2022 were roughly 4 per cent higher on average than a year previously, while in Limerick and Waterford cities the increases were 7.6 per cent and 9.3 per cent respectively.

The report’s author, Trinity College Dublin economist Ronan Lyons, said: “Inflation in housing prices remains stubbornly high – with Covid-19 disturbing an equilibrium of sorts that had emerged, with prices largely stable in 2019 but increasing since.

“As has been the case consistently over the last decade, increasing prices – initially in Dublin and then elsewhere – reflect a combination of strong demand and very weak supply.”

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