Saturday, 9 July 2016

Between the lines…naming colours

LL&P colour card (2014) is my cheeky re-imagining of a well known English paint company's iconic folded colour chart. The names of paints have always been amusing to me, from the very banal to the surreal pairings of imagery and alliteration in high-street brands (like B&Q's "Tempest's Teapot' (Valspar) to the elaborate pretensions of high end paints which use allusion to heritage, aspirational references to places and bizarre imagery 'Elephant's Breath'. I could read them all day. 
The unique naming of paints is a market necessity, to ensure their products are distinct, matchable, memorable and ideally to capture imagination. The rich and varied language used to describe the shades and texture of colours highlights the challenge of colour, as described by David Batchelor.. "there is very little understanding of what colour is...there are 10 millions detectable variations of colour, but most language only have about 11 basic colour terms, so there's a gap between what we can see and what we can say…". Paint manufacturers seem to be tackling this gap, and between the lines meaning is forged between colour and its associations with other pheonoma, weather, places, objects and moods.    
There's an art to weaving words to try to describe colour e.g. Farrow &Ball's colour 'Dead Salmon' is attributed  a to a bill for aKedleston LIbrary 1803: the 'dead' could refer to the flatness or dulness of the shade or the tone. And names like mizzle and F&B'd new range of 'drabs' evoke atmospheres, qualities of light and weather. 
My paint chart became a treasure hunt, as I sought out the right shades on numerous walks around the town of Llandysul and Pontweli. The revelation was to discover so much that I'd overlooked in my home- town, which through familiarity I considered deeply dull. When focusing on colour I saw the creative use and accidental presence of colour all around me. And as I walked I collected names; of houses, chapels and rivers and allowed a poetry to develop between the words an the images. 

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