One for the Road: Colour – Travels Through the Paintbox

This book beckoned me from a front table at Artisan Books on Gertrude St. in Melbourne’s Fitzroy neighborhood. The 2006 paperback version I bought has the bold cover shown here, although I’ve seen several other versions of this book that was originally released in 2002. Regardless of what it looks like, Victoria Finlay’s Colour: Travels Through The Paintbox is a masterpiece. Just as I enjoy looking at Van Gogh’s Sunflowers again and again, so too will I delight in returning to passages from this multicolored exploration of our world.

From ochre to violet, Findlay unearths every possible facet of the rainbow. Her research takes her to Spain, for Consuegra’s Saffron Festival (yellow), to lapis lazuli mines in Sar-e-sang, Afghanistan (blue), and to Mexico, in search of the purple of the Mixtecs (violet). Finlay takes the reader along on this magical journey as she creates a spectacular canvas loaded with pigments, dyes, gems and stones. Her quest to uncover the history and origins of color reveals a rich palette that stretches to every corner of our planet. It would be wonderful to see a map painted to match the discoveries from her color expeditions.