This year, GoMA turns 25 years old! To celebrate this milestone, we are launching a series of events and activities to reflect on our past and look ahead at where we might go. These will all be online at the moment, with free tickets bookable through our Eventbrite page. Every month we will delve into our collections to find out more about what inspires artists to create amazing works of art.

This month, February, we will focus upon colour and its importance in nature, in art, and on our mood. February is the shortest month and although the days are still short, we can now start to see the very beginnings of springtime. The first petals of crocuses push up through the ground to bring colour to life and promise the coming of brighter, longer days. 

What does colour mean to you? Do you even have time to think about such a thing? Think about a rainy day – you might feel a little low and then, surprise…the sun comes out and you can see a rainbow arcing across the sky! You might be drawn back to when you were a child, staring in wonder at these amazing colours. It is almost magical. 

Colour is all around us and therefore it is not hard to imagine that it can have an effect on our mood. What colours do you like and why? Do you like vibrant bold colours such as red or pink? In nature, colours such as these play an important role as they stand out in the wild and can act as a warning to potential predators.

How can science explain a rainbow? In 1666, the scientist Sir Isaac Newton discovered that when pure white light passes through a prism, it separates into all of the visible colours. Rainbows appear in seven colours because water droplets break white sunlight into the seven colours of the spectrum (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet). You can only see a rainbow if the sun is behind you and the rain in front.

In colour psychology, red provokes the strongest emotions of any colour. While cool colours like green and blue are generally considered peaceful and calming, red is considered the warmest and most contradictory of the colours. In fact, this fiery hue has more opposing emotional associations than any other colour. Red is linked to passion and love as well as power and anger. In nature, insects such as the ladybird have black spots on top of a bright red shell – this shouts out to other predatory insects: ‘do not eat me!’

Yellow can be bright and intense, which is perhaps why it can often invoke such strong feelings. Yellow can quickly grab attention, but it can also be abrasive when overused. It can appear warm and bright, yet it can also lead to visual fatigue. The artist Victoria Morton’s use of this colour in the painting ‘Photosynthesis’ (image above) is daring, clever and intriguing. The yellow in the background throws all of the other colours forward and together all of these amazing colours create an accomplished and vibrant work of art. Morton was born in Glasgow and studied at Glasgow School of Art. She is primarily a painter, but has also incorporated sculpture and video into her art. Morton’s paintings are influenced by fashion, art history and experimental musical composition: she plays in a band and also co-founded the performance and installation group ‘Elizabeth Go’. In her large, abstract canvases, the artist aims to involve the viewer as much as possible by creating a mind-expanding and overwhelming expanse of pictorial space. Her work was exhibited in GoMA’s ‘Devils in the Making’ in 2015. 

We look forward to welcoming you to one of our new online sessions and of course back to GoMA once it reopens. Please refer to our Eventbrite page for other details and booking information:

Image: Victoria Morton, “Photosynthesis”, 2014, Donated to Glasgow Museums by the Trustees of the Hamilton Bequest, 2018, © Victoria Morton

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