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138 LAST PAGE / SHARON STAMMERS
BUILTWITH LIGHT
NO. 21: COLOURSCAPE
Sharon Stammers continues her world tour exploring the best architecture that is built
with light. This issue, Douglas James goes for a holiday love affair
Trust Doug! We started the series with epic As the Colourscape design developed, the
and ancient architecture; the Pantheon, structures became more complex in colour
Hagia Sophia, Sagrada Familia and now in relationships.
at No. 21, Doug chooses Colourscape! Only The artists say that Colourscape needs to
joking, it is after all, the personal choice of be experienced directly — photographs only
the designer. My memories of Colourscape give an impression and descriptions are
are from before I dedicated my life to light- inadequate. Colour is not something that
ing and involve magic mushrooms. Whilst can only be seen, it can also be felt. Colour
it is surprising that I remember anything at has energy. Colourscape is about opening up
all from that time, it does illustrate Doug’s your senses and extending your awareness
point that Colourscape is an assault on the of colour. (Surely they were taking mush-
visual senses unlike anything you have ever rooms?)
experienced. The influence of psilocybian Visitors wear a coloured cloak to become
only serves to heighten it. part of the Colourscape itself and then walk
Anyhow enough of my dirty past, I digress. through the labyrinth-like sculpture experi-
Colourscape is a travelling ‘building’ made encing the intensity and subtlety of colour.
of a translucent coloured PVC membranes Although primary colours are used as sur-
constructed into a large inflatable series of faces, visitors may see mixtures of colours
interconnected tunnels and atria. Daylight that they are unable to name. People react
is filtered through the permeable skin of very differently to different colours. “Some
the structure itself. Although only red, blue, people describe red as a physical presence;I’ve chosen Colourscape as it is in the pur-
green and yellow (there is a neutral grey as others hesitate to step into it.” There areest sense ‘built with light’ in a way that no
well), the experience is full spectrum. often dance or music performances insideother building is. The first time I visited
In 1989, Nettelfold Festival Trust directors the structure.Colourscape, I was amazed at the intensity
Simon Desorgher and Lawrence Casserley The Nettlefold Trust runs Colourscape work-of emotion and feelings that I was experi-
began collaborating with Peter Jones and shops for all ages and abilities from the veryencing simply from the colour around me.
Lynne Dickens of Colourscape and created young to the very old. Special Needs groupsThe chambers within the structure are
the Colourscape Music Festival on Clapham particularly benefit through the strongarranged so that, in certain parts, you are
Common in London. The first Colourscape light, colour and music with the workshopscompletely immersed in a single, totally
structure was comissioned in 1995 with supporting the National Curriculum throughsaturated, colour of light. Believe it or not,
funding from Foundation for Sport and the art, colour and light, acoustics and sci-you can then ‘feel’ the brain and physi-
Arts and the National Lottery and designed ence. The workshops in Colourscape leadological system reacting, changing your
for performance. In 2002, a second Colour- the participants on a journey of discoverymood, and creating unexpected sensations
scape was commissioned with Arts Council where they find their own answers to thethroughout your body. From the reactions
lottery funding and the ColourDome was questions: How light and colour work; Howof others, it wasn’t just me that was feel-
constructed in 2005. All installations have colour is made in the brain; How colouring weird either. There are very few places
featured at hundreds of music festivals and affects our thinking and emotions; and Howin the world where you can experience
educational events around the country and colour affects our everyday lives.true saturated colour, and especially where
overseas. ”Adults often say that they feel like chil-there is no artificial lighting element. It
Peter Jones developed the first Colour- dren inside Colourscape, or describe it asis something that anyone who aspires to
scape structures in 1974, preceded by ‘like flying’ or ‘breathing colour’. Childrenunderstand the interaction between light
work called ‘Spaceplaces’; installations of often say that they feel as if they areand human beings must experience.
coloured surfaces made inside buildings. ‘inside a huge body’ or ‘wrapped in a rain-
In 1970 they became open-air structures. bow’. They like to try ‘hiding in colour’.”Douglas James – Director Minds Eye 3D
His experiments with air-inflated sculpture You can experience this for yourself (with or
gave new possibilities to work directly with without mind altering drugs) on September
colour. Early structures used large primary 12-20th at the 20th anniversary Colourscape
colour chambers interconnected by tubes. Music Festival on Clapham Common.
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