Caro Jesse / Food Artist

Immersive experiences, sensory food & flora installations, visual stories, concept development, art direction, collaborations // STUDIO: Photography studio & location at The Bijou, Cape Town.

PETRICHOR Rain and Earth

During the performance, I use steam and wind to carry layers of scent around the room.

PETRICHOR – ‘Petrichor is the earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil. The word is constructed from Greek petra, meaning “stone”, and īchōr, the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology.’

A performance that is an immersive multi-medium sensory experience performed to stimulate the senses, and offer a reconnection to nature through layers of scent that echo the smell of rain as it hits the earth.

Performed in Venice 2018, Cape Town 2019.
Chef & Artist: Caro de Waal – South Africa

(Images below the following text.)


Film, sound, steel, brass, copper, water, oil, fire, smoke, honey, mushroom, moss, tar, helichrysum (imphepho) or fynbos wild rosemary (kapokbos).

Sound composition: Alessandro Gigli on Synth Flute.
Please note: If you have a bee allergy, you may experience some discomfort.

This installation is leading one, through the senses, highlighting the juxtaposition of where we are now at odds with nature, to where we should be, and where we once were, in harmony with nature.

“I feel that bees are a representation of the perfect balance of nature. The increasing fervor of the bees expresses the alarm I feel, as man continues to poison their survival through the spraying of pesticides and the gluttonous desecration of honey.

As man cannot live without the assistance of bees to pollinate his crops, he will sabotage his existence in a sickly sweet self-destruction.

The storm that follows is a chance to reconnect to nature as a whole. As the animals we truly are.

The smell of rain and the a priori feeling that comes with petrichor (the term for the smell of rain) is embedded deep within us as human animals. It calls for us to awaken to our primal connection in harmony with nature. It signifies coming awakening, growth and survival.”

The artist, as ’rain-maker’ performs a ceremony with heat, aroma, edible essences and herbal smoke that releases her own personal experience of petrichor, her instinctual connection with food and drawing sustenance from the African bush.

The mask is a connection to the African Guinea Fowl bird.

“The guinea fowl is a bird that is symbolic of human effort at survival” a quote from transcribed tapes recorded by Credo Mutwa, one of Southern Africa’s most celebrated Sangomas or witchdoctors.

‘Tempest’ (I called it that to relate to the theme of the show, VANITAS), was designed for Venice Food Design Week 2018. It was the largest installation at Palazzo Michiel and also the prequel to the experimental dinners held each night.
Cape Town:
‘Petrichor’ was the ‘starter’ as part of an experience created for guests to celebrate artist-blacksmith Conrad Hicks solo exhibition, ‘Implement’ at one of South Africa’s foremost galleries, Southern Guild, May-July 2019.
See more details on TOOLS, the art & food experience…

Guests on their way up through the secret passageway to my studio at The Bijou in Observatory, Cape Town.

Beginning in the beehive, bees crawl around the room, the film is mapped to the 6m high stepped, curved wall of my studio, and the sound in intense fervour.

The guests wait in anticipation in what is coming next.

The room blacks out after the beehive, I start my performance by pouring the ‘fire starter’ onto the steaming rocks of Namibian quartz using my grandmothers antique teapot.

I start the fires as lighting cracks and the film projected behind me is the beginning of the thunder storm. I use the fire and add an ingredient that sparks into the air to relate to the sudden lightning and thunder after the beehive.

Sparks fly as I add the ‘fire dust’ dust onto the fire.

Rain begins to fall and I begin the layers of ‘Petrichor’. The music becomes calming and beautiful.

Through the lens…

I use 7 layers of scents that I drop in the two different steaming trays I have on my left and right. They are filled with various rocks and crystals from my travels and have meaning to me.

I wave the scents around the room using a fan, steam and also the male mask of the Guinea Fowl as part of the ‘rain-maker’s’ ritual.

I light ‘Imphepho’ or helichrysum, a medicinal herb found in South Africa. It is representative of cleansing the soul. I walk around the room with the smoking bush.

5 of the scents are concentrations and represent earth, rock, moss, forest, umami.

Talking to the guests afterwards and hearing their experiences and talking about how I created the installation.

Many guests felt elation as the rain falls and the layers of smell are released.

Caro pictured at the TOOLS dinner, after the Cape Town event.

Above video is a clip from Venice just as the rain starts to fall, at this point, the music is hopeful and uplifting.