The colour blue

Our second post, on the theme of Blue, is by Chris Yeomans. In it, she explores human perception and experience of the colour. Enjoy!


This morning when I looked out of the window in the semi-darkness everything was shrouded in soft grey mist, white frost outlining roof tiles and branches.  The air was still.

Yesterday, in contrast, there was a clear blue sky, the frost sparkling, the light dancing, lifting the spirits, putting energy into my step.

I am reading a book called ‘The Flow’ by Amy-Jane Beer, essentially about rivers and water courses.  By chance in the current chapter, she explores the idea of blue, starting with the etymology of the word.  ‘Blue, it seems, is consistently last among the primary hues to be named.  Many old languages and some modern languages fail to separate it emphatically from green.’  Just as Arctic cultures have many more names for snow than we do, it seems that, in some cultures, blue has far fewer and she suggests that ‘humans can see colour In different ways and these seem to relate to language.’

It seems that the colour blue has absorbed and inspired humans for centuries.  For us in our climate and our culture, blue is everywhere, day and night.  Van Gogh’s night sky was a startling navy. ‘Ice’ says Robert McFarlan, ‘has a memory and the colour of this memory is blue.’  ‘Fresh snow is white,’ says Amy-Jane,’but it sinters into blue.’  (Interesting choice of word here.)

The race and culture to which I belong can ‘see’ blue in many shades and guises and we can name many of them.  It is the fabric of the natural world for us, so it is hardly surprising that my heart lifts when I see blue sky, the reflection of it in a dazzling blue sea and a sense of peace as it fades in the evening through the spectrum into a darkness which is not black.




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