“To attend to colour, then, is, in part, to attend to the limits of language, what a world without language might be like” David Batchelor


I recently saw David Batchelor talk about his work and its relation to colour at Byam Shaw School of Art. David Batchelor is a fine artist, working in sculpture to be precise, so although awash with bright colours, his studio practice has very little to do with the research for my project into how people talk about colour.

However I originally became aware of David Batchelor through his writing, specifically the book Chromophobia which was on the reading list for my course. I read the book last year over the summer before the start of my second unit without really knowing much about what the book was about, apart from being a take on colour. Initially, it wasn’t what I expected, the first couple of chapters were full of unfamiliar references and discussed concepts that were alien to me. I had never read a book that discussed colour in this way, most books I had looked at about colour were about colour theory or how to use colour.

However a couple more chapters in and it all began to make much more sense, I came to the section which examined how we refer to colours and found in black and white a description of all the things I had noticed about the problem of talking about colours. The text was almost a revelation and gave clarity and shape to my thoughts, along with vital references to others who had also noted the imprecision of colour terms. It was good to know that I was not alone in my observations about colour and language and that a small but not insignificant number of people had considered the subject worthy enough to to write about.

The book has since become the cornerstone of the proposal for this project and has led me to almost all of the other noteworthy texts that I have referred to for the project.

So although the work of David Batchelor and the concepts he explores through his sculpture don’t particularly relate to my own research, they are visually very appealing and it was interesting to hear him speak about the themes in Chromaphobia in relation to his practise.

Images from the Talk

The most recent commission by David Batchelor, Big Rock Candy Fountain, which was above Archway tube station until 27th March.

About eleanorbydesign

Graduate of MA Graphic Design at London College of Communication

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