On Christmas day of 2009 I posted about the colour of carrots.
I had been watching a Royal Institution Christmas Lecture by Prof Sue Hartley about carrots and why they are orange. She spoke about selective breeding by the Dutch (the first naturally occurring carrots were purple – from Afghanistan – and were later cultivated to be orange). In seeking to find more about this I found myself on the website of the British Carrot Museum. It is seriously worth a visit even if your interest in carrots is tangential.
I was reminded of this today when I came across an article in The Economic Times (India) which reported that the Punjab Agriculture University has developed its first black colour carrot variety (known as ‘punjab black beauty’) which has been recommended for general cultivation in the state. The black carrot is the best alternative to tackle the malnutrition problems of the country because it is overloaded with beneficial anti-oxidants and nutrients. The punjab black beauty is is rich in anthocyanins, phenols, flavonols ß-carotene, calcium, iron, and zinc.
I am also reminded, of course, of the words of the great late Uncle Monty (aka Richard Griffiths): “I think the carrot infinitely more fascinating than the geranium. The carrot has mystery. Flowers are essentially tarts. Prostitutes for the bees. There is a certain je ne sais quoi – oh, so very special – about a firm, young carrot”.
According to this article black and white is back in fashion this year. Hopefully one day soon brown and beige will be back and I will once more be a fashionable gent about town!
Famously Henry Ford, speaking of the Model T car in 1909, said “Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black.”
Black is, I think, one of the most interesting colours. I recently came across a book – think it was called A History of Black – which was all about this one colour. In my 25 years working in colour perhaps the most frequent question I have ever been asked is “Is black a colour?”
One interesting aspect of black is that it is almost timeless in its ability to be fashionable. This is one reason why it is worn by lots of people who are particularly conscious of colour (because they work in fashion or interior design etc.). It seems strange at first that people who are most interested and aware of colour are more than likely to wear black. Black is a regular occurrence in the attire of my colleagues in the School of Design at the University of Leeds. Given that it’s timeless, it is also safe. There is no danger of being seen in the wrong colour.
I mainly wear brown. I wonder what that says about me?
It’s often thought that black, white and grey are mature and sophisticated colours and that saturated reds and yellows are childish colours. Part of the reason for this is that the Romans and Greeks didn’t use colour. All those classic statues we see in museums are achromatic. However. this may be all based on a misunderstanding. At a CREATE conference in Italy last year I first came across the idea that the Romans and Greeks used colour quite extensively but that over the centuries the colour faded. Today I saw this story in the popular press.
An exhibition of work – Gods In Colour: Painted Sculpture of Classical Antiquity – recoloured as it is believed to have originally been features more than 20 full-size colour reconstructions of Greek and Roman works. Currently on show at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Germany.
Dollar General (http://www.dollargeneral.com) is a discount store based in the USA. They used distinctive yellow and black colour combinations in their advertising material. In March this year they filed a lawsuit against their competitor (Fred’s Inc) who they claim have damaged their business by copying the trademark yellow and black colours in certain marketing information.
The lawsuit accuses Fred’s of “unlawfully and deceptively” using Dollar General’s colour scheme and typeface in a new advertising campaign. The lawsuit says the only explanation for Fred’s moving away from a traditional blue-green color combination in its advertising is an intent to capture Dollar General’s brand awareness.
For further information see http://nashville.bizjournals.com/nashville/stories/2010/03/08/daily27.html
This autumn expect to see a lot of black – also popular will be dark browns, olives, and (in moderation) scarlet. Don’t say I didn’t tell you!!