This book has been in my library since 2005. I consider it a good friend, especially during times of grey and achromatic weather. Color has been pulled from the bookshelf again this winter and I am engrossed in Victoria Finlay’s vivid writing style bringing me closer to the origin of color pigments once more. Who knew that color has such a rich history?
The book is written as a travelogue, the chapter headings are colors, starting with “The Beginning of the Rainbow” and closing out with “The End of the Rainbow”. Between these the reader discovers ochre, black and brown, white, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.
The writer navigates “through the European paintbox” and takes us further to explore Afghanistan in search of lapis lazuli and how it ended up on Michelangelo’s paintbrush. She explores China in search of yellow and celadon, Mexico for cochineal red and Pupura pansa to name just a few destinations. Nearly every country in the world has natural history relating to color.
Just look around and see how color IS the essence of landscape, of mood and our perception of the physical surroundings. Natural dye stuffs have been extracted from the earth, plants and insects for as long as homo sapiens have inhabited the world. Adornment is part of human nature, whether we decorate our bodies with permanent tattoos, wear bright and patterned clothes or paint the walls of our homes with a favorite color. We cannot escape the power of color.
The author, Victoria Finlay, has traveled the world in search of color and as a journalist. She spent 12 years in Hong Kong, many of these as the arts editor for the South China Morning Post. She now lives in Britain. When researching her most recent activities I came across her blog, which I am now subscribed to. Check it out when you need a color boost or want to travel but time won’t permit packing the suitcase and leaving the country yourself… Enjoy! http://victoriafinlay.com/