Judging by the card readings I have been doing recently, it would appear that a lot of people don’t like grey …
They seem to view it as a negative …
It is true Grey tends not to inspire, that the exciting elements Grey might have been permitted have gone to Silver.
Instead Grey remains a background colour. It exists as an aftermath – the remnants of an event that has gone before; dust emanating from the collapse of buildings; ash, the remains of a fire; cobwebs, the product of prolonged abandonment.
The architecture and the sculpture that remain from Antiquity are also an aftermath. In their heyday the buildings and statues of Ancient Greece and Rome would have been highly coloured, employing the most lustrous of metals and the most powerful of pigments.
Today all that remains is the restrained grey of the base material.
Grey has little symbolic visual currency worldwide, whether secular or religious. In the icon painting tradition of Eastern Orthodoxy grey is a colour never to be used. As a blend of black and white, grey represents two opposing forces: namely the Black of evil and the White of Divine Light which, when mixed, represent a nothingness.
As a decorating choice, Grey can provide a calming and sophisticated environment and an excellent compliment to stronger or brighter colours. As a sartorial choice, Grey is seen as sober, trustworthy and lacking in vanity. As a choice for monks’ robes, grey indicates a life of inner reflection and quiet, an absence of pride and the rejection of worldly pleasures; as a supporting colour for many school uniforms, it indicates sober judgement and responsibility; as a man’s suit colour, it indicates that the wearer is neither flashy nor morally dodgy, but instead a man of integrity – if a touch on the boring side.
I am currently teaching a course on the Italian Renaissance and I wonder whether it ever would have happened if the Classical statues and buildings had remained highly coloured. Somehow I don’t think statues in full make-up would have been the correct fit with the Medici Humanism and the search for restrained perfection.
Even though Grey rarely takes centre stage and may often be what is left behind, it nevertheless remains a colour of understated authority, integrity and reliability.
Where other Ancient colours have dissolved into the ether of ages past, Grey endures …