Dr Ruth Siddall – Pigments of our imagination

On Wednesday 5th October we’re delighted to have Dr Ruth Siddall of UCL talking about the colourful topic of pigments.

Ruth is a co-author of The Pigment Compendium and works on the characterisation, synthesis and history of use of pigments, particularly in Roman period painting.

Photomicrograph of the pigment Indian Yellow in cross-polarised light

Photomicrograph of the pigment Indian Yellow in cross-polarised light

Pigments are the materials which give colour to paints. We’ve all heard about yellow ochre and ultramarine, but there are many weird and, to be honest, totally unacceptable materials used out there for pigments. Artists and painters have been incredibly resourceful in finding and creating new colours over the last 40,000 years of experimentation, and new pigments such as Vanta Black and YinMin Blue are still being introduced today. Pigments can be derived from minerals and also dyes extracted from plants and animals, but a number of more unexpected sources of pigments have been used. If it’s coloured, someone has painted with it.

This talk will explore the analytical techniques used to identify pigments in paintings and the stories behind paints such as Indian Yellow, Emerald Green, Turacine and Mummy Brown.

Join us upstairs at the Old King’s Head, near London Bridge station. Doors open at 6pm for a 7pm start and as usual the event is free, but we will have a whip-round to cover costs – we hope to see you there!

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