“…colour sensitivity and awareness can constitute a major weapon against forces of insensitivity and brutalization. (Albers p xi)
Colour sensitivity as a weapon? So provocative. This bold statement was made by someone whose seminal work Interaction of Colour,, has recently had a 50th anniversary edition. Someone who knows what he is talking about.
How can we use colour awareness against forces of brutalisation? How can we? I don’t know the answer to that question but I do know transformative power of colour.
I write this while sitting with my back to the sun, streaming through a window. It is a cold winter’s day but the sun on my back keeps me more that warm. It enlivens me. It energises me.
A room in an exhibition I randomly wandered into (Olafur Eliasson) transfixed me just with the power of colour, I I walked into a circular room that glowed with radiating constantly shafting coloured light. The sensation on my body changed with the play of light from cool to warm colours.
When I closed my eyes, I could physically feel the warmth of the reds and oranges and the coolness of the blues.
So what is colour? Colour is visible light and visible light is a form of electromagnetic radiation on the electromagnetic spectrum/. When light is shone through a prism we see the ccolours of the colour spectrum: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.
Image by lesleyKnapp
We intuitively know the power of colour on our bodies, on our mood on our well-being, but talk of colour therapy is generally relegated to the woo woo therapeutic basket.
But visible light is on the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) and we tacitly accept the effects of other rays on the EMS such as X-rays, Ultraviolet radiation, gamma rays and yet not the effect of light, or colour waves, on our bodies.
Historical records refer to the healing powers of light and the effect of colour on the mind and body. There are records of the use of colour therapy in ancient cultures such as papyrus sheets dating back to 1500BC listing colour cures; 2000-year-old Chinese medicine records that refer to colour diagnosis (Colour4Life); colour meditations are based on ancient ideas that colours affect our energetic, psychological and spiritual consciousness. (Seile-Hugova p.100).
Think of this; when people feel unwell they will often use the phrase “feeling off colour”, or “in the pink” if they are feeling well. It seems that references to colour and health are part of our common language but the connection to its meaning has been lost.
But what hasn’t been lost is that we intuitively know that “colour is stimulating, calming, expressive, disturbing, impersonal, cultural, vibrant, symbolic” (p1) Holtzschue, 2002:
Albers, J. Interaction of Colour, Accessed May 2017
Holtzschue, L. 2002, Understanding Colour, John Wiley & Sons Inc, NY, USA
Seile-Hugova, L, 2011. Colour: Seeing Experiencing Understanding, Temple Lodge Publishing, Sussex UK
The History of Colour therap. http://colour4life.weebly.com/history-of-colour-therapy.html Accessed May 2017