I’ll split the colours into four blog post of three colours each – four verses of the song if you like!
I’ll start with the shades Anenome, Parys and Gorse.
Motionless, blood clots on rock; underwater explodes like crimson stars.
When I was tiny I was very afraid of deep seas. To my timid imaginations, all kinds of known and unknown beasties lurked beneath the cool green glaze on a still day or the rough choppy grey waves. Whilst nothing would have stopped me from joining my family on a fishing trip or rowing around the bay, I could be sent into a panic quite easily by my brothers teasing rocking of the boat even when our father would tell them off for frightening me.
I was much happier when I could paddle about in the shallows with my net and bucket and most favourite of all were the rockpools filled with all kinds of fascinating and infinitely less scary creatures. Even the “crabbums” as I called them back then were smaller and easily avoided – they wouldn’t nip my chubby pink toes dangling in the tepid water warmed by the sun.
Sea anenomes always fascinated me. So vividly red and blobby when exposed at low tide, I loved watching their delicate tentacles waving under water and how they would shoot back when touched oh so softly with my fingertip.
Eerie, the scarred crater lies; bleeding ancient rust from the shallow earth.
Parys Mountain (Mynydd Parys) is a place that doesn’t feature in my childhood, in fact I had never been there until a few weeks ago when I went specifically to see it and take photos for this project. However Anglesey is somewhere of massive geological interest generally, the rock formations everywhere are fascinating even to amateurs and the orangey coloured ironstone in the headlands I scrambled over is everywhere and is part of my association with the place.
Parys Mountain is also known as The Copper Mountain; as a fantastically rich copper resource it has been mined for almost 4,000 years since the Bronze Age. Although its value was recognised since prehistoric times, it came into its own in the 18th century when it was the most significant copper mine in the world and contributed to the islands economy and established nearby Amlwch as a significant town. Whilst I chose it as the inspiration for the intense, rusty, coppery orange I wanted, there are many shades in the Great Opencast and I want to revisit these colours at some point in my dyeing – a literal mine of colour!
Visiting it on a hot, still day gave the eerie impression that I had suddenly landed on another planet, perhaps on Mars. Very little can grow on the acidic earth, heavy in metals and the bare, richly coloured heaps of rock give an other-worldy feeling that follows you as you walk. I think Marley found it a spooky as did, for once he behaved and didn’t pull on his lead!
Standing looking down into the vast open mine it’s incredible to think it was largely created simply by men with hand tools and gunpowder, a point made by the information signs at that point. Miles of tunnels run beneath the opencast; apparently it is estimated that more than six million tons of copper, zinc and precious metals still lie in this mine. Even the pools of standing water are rusty orangey red…
Coconut and honey’d spice; exotic scents on a salt-tanged ocean breeze.
Gorse is everywhere in Wales and indeed most rural places in Britain! I most notice the scent of it though when I’m at the coast; it has that sweet smell that to me seems like a cross between coconuts and freshly baked banana bread! Warmed by the sun, I would run through head height gorse and rosa rugosa bushes to get to the beach and the smell would fill my nose and make me hungry for cake.
Yellow is not a colour I can wear and I find it tricky to use. But a small amount of yellow lifts so many other shades, it’s amazing how it works with other colours and brings them to life with its zesty punch.
I loved how the gorse added a bright focus in this picture with the Welsh Mountain sheep, the Menai Bridge and the infamous stretch of the Menai Straits called The Swellies, the part with dangerous tides and whirlpools that can be navigated at slack water. I moored beyond here just the other side of the Menai Bridge for two nights some years ago on a yacht trip sailing round Anglesey. Some of the crew wanted to go through The Swellies but our skipper was a bit lazy and told us it wasn’t really that exciting and said no!
I hope you like the first three shades.
I’ll be back soon with the next three in the second verse of the Island Song!