Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Purple, the new Ball Green

The Catherine Wheel, Bibury's local, has just reopened having been re-fitted following a change of ownership. When I drove past on Saturday the old sign was still up: white text on a pale-ish green background. The green was from the heritage, Farrow-and-Bally palette*, and I have to say I felt a moment of involuntary revulsion. That wishy-washy set of watery, drab, sick-based colours has really lost its appeal, at least for me. Too studiedly and laboriously tasteful.

Don't get me wrong, I've got the odd bit of woodwork painted in that palette myself. But I sense a change in the aesthetic: and if I've begun to notice it, you can be sure it must be well under way.

The new owners have put up a much bigger sign, and it's in a lusty, unrestrained purple. I think I may have glimpsed an indication that we're moving into a new age of taste, one where colours are jolly by way of compensation for all the other stuff. About time too.

* Having looked up the F&B colour chart it was somewhere around Cooking Apple Green, Ball Green and Stone White (sic). The purple doesn't appear on their chart - it is, quite literally, beyond the pale.


Kevin Musgrove said...

I like my colours to be boisterous rather than garish. There are too many shop makeovers round here that are using bright colours in flat and boring ways.

Gaw said...

At least they're not drab. I must take a closer look on our high street to see what's going on colour-wise.

worm said...

being the snob that I am, I've always been of the opinion that the ability to correctly use bright colours in interior design is a mark of true good taste. The creeping curse of the slightly georgian green is just a cop out.

worm said...

BTW, I think the trendy way to describe purple these days is 'aubergine'

Gaw said...

Worm, I think you're absolutely right. Strong colours are difficult to make work, but when they do they're really something. Way beyond me, though.

This definitely wasn't aubergine, which I think is a bit muted and dusty (and another cop-out, really, like the Georgian greens). It was a full imperial purple and reveled in that status.

Bunny Smedley said...

Where to start?

The point about F&B colours is less that they are pale - not all of them are - than that they actually contain rather more pigment than most off-the-shelf commercial paint. I am sorely tempted to photograph the colour in our hall - or would be, if I didn't realise that our off-the-shelf camera doesn't do 'Mahogany' justice, simply due to that issue of saturation. All I can say, really, is that 'Mahogany' is like a 'black' cat - colourless when dark, aubergine in the dawn, foxy-russet in bright sunlight, with a streak of cobalt in moonlight, and a scary sort of dark brown the rest of the time.

We once sacked an otherwise competent cleaner for disliking this colour, or at least going on about disliking it. She'd have preferred a very 1970s-issue acrylic white as being 'brighter'. Personally, I can't see why anyone who values 'brightness' should bother with an actual early Georgian house.

One might, I guess, paint the place a non-F&B, unsaturated, 'bright' purple. During its 1970s brothel days, quite a lot of it was a cheap, if resilient, chrome green. But on the other hand, why not simply use colour either for practical reasons - the Mahogany in the hall positively radiates chromatic values back at the pictures hanging their, greatly to their improvement, not least the near-monochrome prints - or for expressive, 'sod the zeitgeist' ones?

Lord knows, avoiding tastefulness, just because we're told to, is as irksome as adopting it because we're told to. And when I repaint my study, just off the hall, it will almost certainly be in F&B colours - possibly Cord, Dauphin or Smoked Trout. We don't have a cleaner at present, just me, so I shall do, for once, what I like.

Gaw said...

Ah but Bunny, you are clearly one of those excellently tasteful people who have the ability to use strong colours in interior design with great success. You are therefore exempt from all strictures.

In fact, your hall sounds a place of very great wonder, something out of an Edwardian children's fantasy adventure. At the full moon it probably becomes a portal to some sort of Soho wonderland.

Presumably, you knew it was that resilient green in its brothel days because that's what it was like when you bravely took it on (what other reason could there be?). Whoever did the first clean (you?) would have deserved a medal. God knows what was to be found in the dark corners.

Given you obviously take no prisoners with regard to taste, I will leave it there. I wouldn't like to join the fate of your cleaner (who, let's face it, had it easy compared to you doing that first clean), even metaphorically.

(BTW I hope you don't mind being compared to a lefty like George Orwell: think of him as a Tory anarchist out of his time).

Bunny Smedley said...

Don't real, Stalinist type lefties consider Orwell the most shocking traitor to their cause and a wicked establishment lackey? Not that that's the only reason to admire his writing, mind you, but it's a place to start ...

(Actually, there's almost no one who ever wrote better essays, which is why I was, and indeed remain, shocked into silence at being mentioned in the same breath.)

Back to F&B, though. The reason I know the brothel-era paint here was chrome green is that no one, not even F&B, has ever created a paint that doesn't eventually, admittedly with some help from the resident small child here, chip away from it, leaving bits of it on view. Sadly, we only bought the place once it had been rather gracelessly gentrified, which I hugely regret - as alarming as that initial cleaning programme might have been, we might have been a bit more conservative when it comes to tearing out old shutters etc just because they're a bit rotten and decrepit - rottenness and decrepitude being qualities I tolerate far more readily, at least in an interior decorating context, than this whole 'brightness' business!