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Colour Stories and Chromatophobia

colour workshop

Do you suffer with Chromatophobia?

What’s your relationship with colour like?

Are you slightly afraid of it; not really sure how to approach it in case you do, or say, the wrong thing?

Or are you living a comfortably safe existence? Is it habitual, something that you don’t really think about until you realise that almost everything you own or wear is grey? maybe you’re worried you’re just a little bit too passionate; a ‘more is more’ approach, hiding your true colours under a layer of rainbow brights and deafening your friends with your extremely loud colours.

Perhaps your love of colour just needs rekindling; a little poke here and there to check that it’s still alight.

Colour is a subject/concept that fascinates me on every level. It’s a triple science subject; biology, chemistry, and physics. It’s metaphysics. It’s natural, manufactured and available in every shape and form. It’s animal, vegetable, mineral and every conceivable hybrid in between.

It’s a reflection, a memory and a trace with the power to ignite associations and flash backs.

It’s on trend, off colour, retro and ‘the new black’. It’s classified, organised, registered and theorised.

It’s all an illusion, it’s smoke and mirrors playing with our perceptions and confusing our senses.

Joseph Albers spent a lifetime exploring the Interaction of Colour and his work is a visual reminder that nothing is fixed; perception is all about context. Just like people, colours adjust their behaviour according to who they are sitting next to, or talking to.

Consider #thedress and the media facination with how and why its colour apparantly appears different to different people and in different environments.

This is all beginning to feel like a heavy load, there are rules, authorities, the fashion police and queues of ‘other people’ just waiting for us to make a ‘colour faux pas’ so it’s easier just to stick to a nice pink and purple combination because that always works – doesn’t it???

Well maybe it’s time to lighten up a little and see colour as an exciting new plaything. It’s there to be enjoyed, not feared.

So let’s play a game…it’s called Colour Associations and anyone can join in – in  fact the more the merrier. It works better with friends. And wine.

Think of a colour then simply list everything you associate with that colour. It might be food, an emotion, a landscape, a smell, a piece of clothing, a favourite auntie…..that’s it. You could also say wherther you like a particular shade of that colour –.

I’ll get the ball rolling…..(it’s a big red bouncy ball BTW)


Lipstick, blood, apples, tomatoes, anger, passion, bull fighters, nail varnish, Red Army, Red Cross, Red Tent, red shoes, red knickers, FIRE! STOP!

Phodophobia; is a fear of the colour red.

Red Collage



Get ready to go; marmalade, ginger hair, life bouys, ginger toms, guantanamo detainees, Tango (drink not the dance) sunsets, fake tan, nicotine stained fingers…..not sure I like the way this one’s going…..

Chrysophobia is a fear of the colour orange.

October is Orange


Sunshine, yellow ribbons, submarines, *smiley face, smiley face, sad face*, custard, egg yokes, baby chicks, scaredy cat…. jaundice…er, lets stop there.

Xanthophobia is a fear of the colour yellow.

yellow collage


GO! My favourite colour (as everyone under the age of 10 knows – you MUST have a favourite colour by which you will be judged) chlorophyll, new shoots, eco warriors, naive, green tea, jealousy, sea sick, green cross code, my favourite charity shop cardigan that I literally loved to pieces and couldn’t bear to get rid of, pool tables, the green green grass of home, Greensleeves, the dress they always put the red head in…..

Chlorophobia is a fear of the colour green

green collage


Steady now… loyalty, precaution, my horrible school uniform, any uniform, big sky, oceans, blue moon, blue movies, big blue eyes, forget-me-nots, the blues, baby blues, black and blue, flashing lights and sirens, another uniform….ello, ello, ello….what’s gong on here then??

Cyanophobia is a fear of the colour blue

blue collage


The Colour Purple, velvet Jackets from the 1960’s and 70’s, purple hearts, parma violets, purple haze, purple rain, the Biba lipstick I bought in Top Shop in 1979, my childhood bedroom, royalty, Victoriana, mystics, lavender, residential homes for elderly people.

Porphyrophobia is a fear of the colour purple. (I think I may be borderline)

purple collage


Sherbet, Brighton rock, fluffy mohair jumper (mine in 1982) ballerina’s, pink ribbons, in the pink…..OK. I’m bored with pink.

And I can’t find a word for the fear of pink. Does that mean it’s the least scary colour??

pink collage

You get the picture?

The next part of the game is to get your paints out and paint as many different variations as you can of each colour – that’s possibly a step too far for most of you, but I thoroughly recommend a ‘hands on’ appraoch when it comes to playing with colour.

If you’d like to have a go at mixing colours, and creating beautiful and inspiring colour combinations I’m running a 2 part Master Class in Norwich starting on June 3rd. You can find all the details here.

But if you can’t join us, just gather a few friends round, open a bottle of wine (after arguing about what colour it should be) and share your colour stories.

I’m sure you’ll all enjoy hearing each others personal anecdotes about why they can’t stand bottle green, lemon yellow or candy pink.

Such fun!

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Breathing Space: A Midwinter Creative Retreat

As the school holidays unfold and the long summer days begin to dissolve into each other I remind myself on a daily basis to savour the freedom of these unbound weeks.

I make myself slow down, and become conscious of my breathing, because I can see what’s on the horizon. It’s just a speck now, but I know it’s hurtling towards me – and a knot is already forming in my stomach.

I am in a direct collision course with Christmas and when it makes impact I know it will take my breath away .

A British Christmas, in the 21st century, is a paradox rolled in glitter. It is exhausting and exhilarating. It’s stressful and blissful. It brings our friends and families into sharp focus and empties our head of all rational thoughts.

Thankfully the current zeitgeist points to a return of the home made and reminds us of the genuine pleasure derived from crafting and making things.

One of the greatest delights at Christmas is, perhaps, the rediscovery of old, home-made cards and decorations; the unsophisticated, but intimate, reminders of Christmas past. My own family’s attempt at edible tree decorations and felted gingerbread men will never grace the pages of Elle Decoration, but they made us smile and we had fun making them.

There is something strangely powerful about the home made Christmas object, and this winter, at the beautifully tranquil retreat; Breathing Space, we are going to give you an opportunity to create your own, home-spun, decorative traditions.

I am delighted to be collaborating with the brilliant Stylist and Image Consultant Sarah Morgan on a programme of Creative Retreats,  and so just before Christmas strikes this winter  we can offer you a space to catch your breath.

When did you last give yourself the time and space to play?

When did you last give yourself permission to play; to cut, glue, sew, print and explore new ways of making?

When did you last use your paints,  open your sewing box , or unfold that stash of salvaged wrapping paper?

Sarah and I gave ourselves permission last week, at Breathing Space, and we spent a day ‘playing’ with fabrics in preparation for the midwinter workshops and it was FUN! We talked and laughed, shared stories, ate cake and were delighted by our upcycled textile decorations.

Crafting at Breathing Space



upcycled textiles

If you struggle to give yourself permission to play, just remind yourself that creative practices trigger the release of endorphins – our bodies ‘feel good’ chemicals. Creativity is associated with improved brain function, and connecting with others in a creative environment fosters empathy, laughter and trust.

So if, like me, you sense a growing knot of anxiety as the ‘festive’ season approaches, give yourself permission to play. Get out the scissors, and the glue, and all those salvaged scraps of fabric or paper, invite your friends round and have some FUN!

Make a date now. Go on – put it in your diary…….

For more information about this fabulous weekend retreat at Breathing Space take a peek over here.



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