Imagine there’s no colour…


I never wrote about this at the time, it was to remain anonymous for the National Brain Appeal’s annual envelope art exhibition. I’ve also lost my way a bit lately, such is the sinusoidal nature of the creative mind…

When I saw the theme for this year’s exhibition, I wasn’t best pleased. “A way with colour,” well, what’s a black and white character supposed to do with that? Then I got to thinking about all the colours I could use but don’t; the bottles that gather dust on the studio shelf; the garish, shiny stuff that I save for my outfits but rarely dream of including in my art. Which led to a little story in my head of a scientist, buried in the depths of the lab, working long into the night to create all the elemental, stardust colours that the universe glows in. An alternative creationist myth, if you like. So I took my colour names from the planets and phenomena that occur out there and in here:

Charged Particles from the solar wind react with the magnetic field that surrounds our planet, creating the vivid green colour we see at the poles as aurorae.

Jovian Storm comes from the Great Red Spot that rages in the high pressure atmosphere of Jupiter.

Magellanic Cloud takes it’s name from a pair of small galaxies that orbit the Milky Way, each contains glowing, nebulous regions, lit up by newly formed stars.

Venusian Runaway is inspired by the thick carbon dioxide atmosphere of Venus, often described as a runaway greenhouse effect.

Dark Side – if this one needs explaining to you, you’re in the wrong place…

Neptunian Frost – I don’t think there’s a more beautiful shade of blue than sunlight scattered by frozen methane.

Hydrocarbon Haze – Titan, my second favourite moon in the solar system, is surrounded by a thick atmosphere of hydrocarbons giving it an orange glow. Fun fact: Titan has a methanological cycle similar to the water cycle on Earth. The gravity on Titan means that droplets of methane grow twice as big as our raindrops and fall slowly to the ground like snowflakes.

Space Ink, 2018. Ballpoint pen on envelope. 

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