Michael O’Shaughnessy

Programme Leader, MA Graphic Design and Illustration, Liverpool School of Art & Design, Liverpool John Moores University


Michael O’Shaughnessy

Michael O’Shaughnessy

From Liverpool Art School, Tate Liverpool to Walton Jail (HMP Liverpool) Perfume Stories: Alchemy, Olfaction and Synaesthesia.


The hypothesis around this idea explores the proposition of the value of a multi-sensory experience in Art and Design. Perfume Stories are constructed around a series of workshops which began at Liverpool School of Art & Design. A residency at Tate Exchange Liverpool led to an invitation to collaborate with Novus.ac.uk and HMP Liverpool.

Much of the peripheral activity about how we react to smell is still unknown. A number of ideas are examined within these sessions. A participatory learning context that encourages literacy and questions some of the assumptions around intelligence and cognition. The workshops are also a starting point for exploring the pedagogical model of the illustrator author.

One of the aims is to explore how these memory experiences may offer a different voice to examine adult literacy. There have been declines in the number of people participating in learning whilst in prison, and in achieving qualifications in recent years.*

One of the ideas is to encourage the learners to understand that whilst some of the standard mechanisms for learning are a good measure of intelligence, for many learners it’s not straightforward. It offers the learners, the opportunity to value some of their own stories. The sensory nature of the project asks the learners to question and re assess their own approach to learning.

It should encourage the learners that through these olfactory encounters, there are multiple ways to make sense of the experience as a creative tool.

There are parallels between Drawing and Perfume Stories. Both have sensorial registers. Memory and emotion are linked. Perfume Stories provides a method for pedagogy and inquiry.

My previous research has investigated creative and inclusive approaches for multiple stakeholders, that included marginalised and non-typical learners.

*Skills Funding Agency (2017) Further education and skills: November 2017, London: SFA


Illustrator and Academic, Michael O’Shaughnessy is the Programme Leader for MA Graphic Design and Illustration at Liverpool School of Art and Design. He has worked across the HE sector on collaborative partnerships and as an External Examiner.

His Illustration clients have included Elbow, Universal Music, The BBC, Vogue Magazine and Penguin Books

Collaborations with Tate Liverpool and The Everyman Theatre were based on a Research Practice that included ‘Drawing and Writing’. These ideas challenged the view that handwriting was a measure of intelligence. This encompassed drawing and writing projects for multiple stakeholders, including marginalized groups, social and creative communities.

Two public facing aspects of this project were large external billboard projects. Everyman Theatre Liverpool and This Beautiful Place at Kings Wharf / Liverpool. The latter was commissioned by a partnership between Robertson Construction and Ørsted Energy.

His most recent Research Project, Perfume Stories: Alchemy, Olfaction and Synaesthesia, was part of a residency at Tate Exchange Liverpool. This led to an ongoing partnership with Novus.ac.uk and HMP Liverpool. Michael is a keen open water swimmer and a founding member of the Liverpool Vikings Swimming Club