Colour in the winter.

A collection of orchids are on display in the hot house at Kew Gardens. They are delicate, small dashes of intense saturated colour. They live in a warm environment and steam is released into the air. You have to take off your winter hat, scarf and gloves, necessary for the freezing cold day. With a lily-pad ponds and green tropical plants, its like visual of a paradise. Outside, the rest of the park is muted, wintery, grey green, mud brown and cold.


Pure Green

Trend forecasters favour the colour green

I was fascinated by the colour trend forecasts at London Tent last week. Tent is an high end ‘multi-faceted’design show in London’s East End. With Creative Director of Rex giftware, I followed the trend tour around the show led by Global Color Research™. It was a tour of four commissioned installations about the forthcoming evolution of the colour green, like 3-d mood boards. And the forthcoming evolution of green is pertaining to interior design.

The first trend stop was at the concept display called Bleep. It was like a fine art piece; voice controlled machines painted a painting by spraying out colour in the form of consumer house paint on to a wall. It expressed clunky analogue retro technology (which was prominent in this years fine art shows in the form of record players, cassettes and camera film) and it supported the trend concept by demonstrating fun and grown up play.

Next was Mother Earth. Here the decorated wall showed us the concept of dark and precious. It could be in the woodland or in a cave. The colour green here was bright and jade like. The wall was dark, not dirty. The materials were precious gold, crystals, but not bling. Bark is mixed with Swarovski, with sparkling, jewel like detail in the crevices.

On to Alpine, the love of the outdoors, of feel good greens, mountains and forests. This was a ‘tapestry’, a figurative jigsaw-like laser cut image of the nature of London fields, not Scandinavia. It included wood panels and engraving and showed how a particular green can respond to and change according to the colours around it (not such a new idea).

At the end was Burst, a high energy, uplifiting, edgey wall of drawing and more along the lines of urban street art this time. We are in 2014 now. The greens are mossy but also hyperreal and fluorescent. We were reminded that the green pallette does not always have to the natural.

All this talk of green made me remember a tour I was taken on of the House of Commons, lead by a friend who was working there at the time. She gave me fact sheet about the House of Common’s green. The fact sheet tries to work out the significance of green in Parliament.

“The use by the Commons of green is much less easy to explain…..There is no standard shade of green; all gradations, from pale sage to deep malachite, are in use.” It talks of Green Men, green in theatres, everlasting greens and archers but is inconclusive.

And here is another green. In an alchemical experiement, Medieval Blackadder’s Percy invents pure green. It’s a joke too about which material, and colour, we value more than another and at different times.

House of Commons green, a factsheet >>
Global Colour >>




Film by Tacita Dean in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern.

The lights are out in the Turbine Hall at the Tate and its as if a giant piece of film is propped up and backlit. In fact it is a projected looping film shot on 35ml with panoramic cinemascope lens turned on its side and the effects were created physically, not digitally. It is a moving collage; artist cut up images from her large postcard collection or used footage of waterfalls and a snail, like stock footage. She has hand coloured black and white film, exposed it many times through the camera and masked it to create the collage. The film is treated as a very physical material and Tacita Dean says she has been lead by the ‘magic’ of the medium and likes the unpredictable results. Though loved, analogue is being forced out and it is digital switch over everywhere, and the film labs are closing one by one. So this is her response, a homage to film.

Autumn fruit

These photos were taken on a walk in Sussex called the Robertsbridge Circular. Your eye is attracted by the colour of the fruit and leaves along the hedgerows and in the orchards, especially rich in the autumn evening light.






Black and white and yellow

Director J.Lee Thompson chose to rely on our imaginations in his 1953 black and white film, The Yellow Balloon. In the setting of bombed post war London, a boy loses his pocket money and the chance of buying a balloon. Upset, he steals his friend’s yellow balloon, an incident which leads to tragedy and blackmail. Later, a manipulative gangster buys the boy a red balloon to gain his trust.

The colours of the balloons are conveyed only by words, in the title and the dialogue, the opposite of the language of film, which tells a story using pictures.


We are used to seeing old master drawings, etchings and lithographs are usually drawn in black or sepia on a cream paper, grey or off white paper, perhaps marked or discoloured with time. The have the aura and patina of age. But Gauguin’s Volpini suite is printed on a strong buttercup yellow paper. The colour instantly makes the print look modern.