Monday 30 October 2023


A picture of the potter Daniel Martin

The world of pottery has become a massive fascination around the world, not least because of television programmes like The Great Pottery Throw Down, and it’s seen independent potters finally getting their share of the spotlight. Daniel Martin started his creative journey as a successful contemporary dancer, but there was another skill that was to become his calling. As well as being a Yoga teacher, Daniel is a self-taught potter who uses the East Sussex coastline’s mossy greens, chalky whites, and sea blues as the inspiration in his firings. With such a varied background, I thought it was time to learn his scented secrets in “Stephan’s Six”.

What is the first smell that you can remember?
I have three, but the first two aren’t very healthy I’m afraid. The first one is cigarette smoke. My grandmother was a smoker and I was very close to her, and used to sit on her lap - it was the 80s before anyone talked about second-hand smoking, so the smell of cigarettes does hold fond memories for me. The second is petrol, and I think for all kids it’s that first experience of an addictively noxious smell. The third though is the first novel scent that didn’t come from a place I understood, and that was the smell of the rain; the rain on tarmac, the smell of iron in the rain, or in the forest. I spent a lot of time in the forest as a kid, and the way that rain makes the mud smell just brings everything to life. So that’s the first novel smell that I couldn’t understand, and I had to figure out. The rain is actually my favourite weather, because I grew up in Dorset and it rains a lot, and I miss that childhood smell. Where I am now, because it’s chalky downs rather than granite moorland, you don’t get the same smell.

An advert for L'Eau d'Issey Pour Homme from Issey Miyake
What was the perfume of your twenties?
I loved clean smells, like you’d just stepped out of the shower, so things like CK One or CK Be, but the first one that I felt that I discovered for myself was L'Eau d'Issey Pour Homme from Issey Miyake. I started wearing it when I was nineteen because a boyfriend bought me a bottle, but that bottle was actually the last scent I owned until a year and half ago. I never wore scent again after that because I started to practice a lot of yoga, and yoga studios encourage you not to wear scent. So it just fell out of my consciousness. However, my twenties were a very carefree time; I was partying, performing in nightclubs, fire breathing, stilt walking, all that kind of stuff. So it was just a very hedonistic period. I always had that bottle of Issey Miyake in my bag of tricks because, as a stilt walker, you’d get very sweaty. Thinking about it, I haven’t smelled it in fifteen years, so I should probably smell it again and see what happens.

What perfumes did your parents wear?
My parents didn’t really wear fragrance but one of my aunts, my mum’s sister, was another story. She was a heavy smoker but she also wore Body Shop White Musk. As a six-year old, I thought she was really fancy because this amazing woman smoked, drank wine, was an absolute enigma. So that fragrance, even to this day, brings the whole image and memory back, including the cigarette smoke. She was kind of the cool aunt as well, and the atmosphere of that house I still remember to this day; she always had music on because she had a lot of records, and her husband was a really cool roofer. Her daughter became a beautician and she also wore a Body Shop fragrance, but it was Vanilla. It had that marshmallow smell and, because it was so strong, you could smell her coming.

What was your biggest perfume mistake?
So my first boy crush when I was eighteen used to wear Blue Jeans. Do you remember that? At the time, and even today, I really don’t like it. It’s not to do with any association with him, and at the time I was trying to make myself like it because he wore it. I would put it on at his house, nothing ever came of us by the way, or I’d spray it if I was going past Boots. So I would say that was my biggest ever mistake, because I was trying to like something I clearly didn’t. Look, some people might like it, but it’s all the wrong notes for me. To be honest, he was a very toxic friend as well, so perhaps they were the perfect match.

A picture of a bottle of the No.23 perfume from Fischersund
You can only choose one perfume?
This would be No.23 from Fischersund. The singer Jónsi, from the rock band Sigur Rós, set up a perfume shop in Reykjavík with his family and they release maybe one scent a year. They’ll do a series of tests and each of the samples will be numbered, and they name the final fragrance after the number that is written on the original sample. We were in their shop in Reykjavík, which is all painted black with incredible art on display, and this was the first perfume that I’d actually bought since Issey Miyake in my twenties. Jónsi is the nose, and he created No.23 when he was on tour. He was getting very homesick for Iceland, and the fragrance really is impeccable. It’s so deep and rich, so incredibly perfumed, so really something. I was wearing that every day, but I lost my last bottle - I left it in a hotel!

What perfume should I try?
Well, I think it’s really important to fragrance the space around you, so I would say to find a really great incense. I burn incense every day in every room that I’m in, it’s part of my yoga practice, but I’ve loved incense since I was a kid. My godparents took me on holiday when I was ten to Fowey and Looe, and I had two £1 notes to spend. I bought a pack of incense from a little shop in Cornwall, and burning it was just so magical. The smell is so evocative, it’s so deep and smells ancient, and even as kid I could feel that. I make the Ceramic Incense Diffusers now that the incense cones burn in, like little houses with a turret, and the scented smoke that wafts out of them is so grounding.

For more information about Daniel Martin you can visit his website at or follow him on Instagram at thepilgrimpotter.

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