A universe without colour is, quite literally, unimaginable.
Colour is that wonderful, ever-changing, ephemeral element in our lives that nobody quite understands. Colour excites some of us and frightens others, but where would we be without it? It is crucial to our lives, in fact crucial to all beings, and often central to survival. But how? You can’t build with it or eat it, hold it or hear it or even feel it. What use does it have beyond enhancing our visual world?
But colour is far more than pure decoration. It is a vital form of communication, for colour transmits messages more rapidly than any words. Colour is a language without barriers.
Today there is not one area of our bodies that we cannot change in colour if we so wish. We have the choice to alter the colour of our hair, eyes, eyebrows, eyelashes, nails, teeth and skin. We can adorn our bodies with tattoos, or change the colour of our skin with tanning and lightening agents. This desire to transform our appearance transcends race, nationality and gender. The need to have different coloured skin/teeth/hair can become an addiction, leading to life-threatening conditions. What are we saying about ourselves by doing this?
Allegiances are identified by colour: nations, political parties; military, naval and civil forces; religions and subsections within those religions; educational establishments, social groups, sports teams. Colour provides the banner under which groups can rally. Colour has become the calling card of causes, whether representing a country in revolution or a social need. Wristbands and ribbons are worn to display commitment to a particular cause, whether it is the struggle against AIDS or breast cancer, the recovery of a missing child or a determination to end world poverty.
Words are not required, language is surpassed – a small piece of colour transmits the message.
I invite you to join me as I explore the multifaceted world of colour, its emotional impact on us all and the fascinating cultural variation in the employment of colour, consciously and subconsciously, around the world.