Tag Archives: Colour of Place

Colour Walking

Today should have been the first day of my residency in Tarset, Northumberland.  As part of VARC‘s (Visual Arts in Rural Communities) two-year programme ENTWINED: Rural. Land. Lives. Art, I was due to be partnered with Unison Colour, makers of hand-made artists’ pastels.

With all that is going on in the World, a postponed residency is a little thing, but I am still deeply disappointed.  I was looking forward to the coming month as a great challenge, both personally and professionally.  The colours of Northumberland were calling, filled with the promise of a new outlook providing new ideas.  I was both excited and trepidatious about the challenge of living on my own for a month.

With the Covid 19 lock down, Bristol has become a new, quieter place.  The death of a friend has taken away the motivation to make or create.

With the start of May, I have decided to reframe the ideas I was going to explore in Tarset, to see how I can approach them in Bristol.  The starting points of my explorations in Northumberland were to be walking and colour. My basic plan is to go for walks through Bristol, photographing colour as I go.  I will then use these photographs to create a colour representation of the walks, and to create a colour palette of Bristol. 

May 1st

Today I used my 30 minute walk to my studio as a test walk.  This first attempt has taught me that I need parameters.  Just walking and taking random photographs didn’t feel satisfying.  Too much choice ended in paralysis.  I need some rules.

I found myself having an internal argument  about the type of photographs I wanted to take – is it enough to record colour, or does each photograph need to be beautiful? 

The first image shows the grid composed of a tiny close up section of each photo, with the simplified colour version underneath.  The third image uses the whole photo, again with the simplified colours underneath. I think I prefer the second experiment, but I am not sure about the mixture of depths.  Would an image composed of all flat surfaces be more pleasing, or just dull?  

The next grid needs to be composed of more images to give me more pixels.

Collecting Colour

119 test tubes of sand from Western Australia collected by Emily Ketteringham
119 Small test tubes of sand and rock from Western Australia, collected over a two month period in 2018

I had been to Western Australia before in 2011, and the thing that really stuck in my mind was the colour. When we were preparing to visit again in 2018, I wanted a way of physically bringing that memory back with me. I had just finished my MA design project ‘Shifting Sands‘ where friends had been collecting sand from around the UK for me to turn into concrete pebbles. As a result, I had a house full of left over pots of sand – the perfect inspiration for a holiday project to collect colour.

Over the two months we travelled round Western Australia, I filled 119 tiny test tubes with sand, gravel, ochre, ore, and if I am very lucky, one test tube might even have tiny bits of fossilised stromatolite in it. None of my samples were taken from sacred Aboriginal sites. I found more colour, and more variety, than I could have dreamed of.

Close up of test tubes filled with sand from Western Australia

I started being restrained and collecting only one sample a day. That went out of the window on the day we found this extrodinary place by the side of the road. I think I collected 10 colours in under an hour.

Close up of test tubes filled with sand from Western Australia

I have samples from places that are contradictory – such as this iron mine
that was wondrous and horrendous at the same time.

My favourite is dark metallic sand collected with a magnet from a perfect circle
of sand around the top of an ant hole found behind Dales camp site in Karijini
National Park. Just steps away, in one of the most beautiful, magical place I
have places I have ever been to, we saw this graffiti – you do have to wonder.

Every time I look at this collection, I am back in Australia.

119 test tubes of sand from Western Australia collected by Emily Ketteringham

119 Small test tubes of sand and rock from Western Australia, collected over a two month period in 2018