Sebastian Rypson - Grey 'n' Green
The question “what is your favourite colour?” has rather childish connotations for me. I remember friends asking me my favourite colour, my favourite animals, my favourite food, and vice versa. Unsurprisingly, the colours we wear, or surround ourselves with later on in life have their subliminal origins in our first tentative, tottering steps into the creation of our very own personality and character. Mine started with a book.
The first book I remember my mother reading to me was The Hobbit. I was five. Without fail, every evening at eight o’clock, she would sit next to my bed and carry me away from the water-heavy tropical nights of Rarotonga to the Misty Mountains of Tolkien’s Middle Earth. And although I would invariably fall asleep rather quickly, the story would continue, perhaps with me as protagonist instead of Bilbo Baggins from Bag-End, the Shire. Hobbits, Dwarves, Elves, Goblins and Trolls inhabited my dreams and, when I awoke in the morning, I would continue day-dreaming about the characters I most identified with, the races I most wanted to be. Tolkien described Hobbit culture, behaviour and the clothes they wore in the first few pages of the book. Bright colours, he said, greens and yellows predominated. Although bright, the colours also aptly merged with the surrounding countryside of The Shire; camouflage that allowed the Hobbits to disappear from view whenever we, lumbering giants, would stomp by. I liked that; camouflage.
By the time I was ten I had read the three volumes of The Lord of the Rings. I was smitten. Although The Hobbit was funny and thoroughly enjoyable, compared to the serious creatures in The Lord of the Rings, I found it a little childish now. My fantasy world had become that of the Lord of the Rings.
The race I now particularly identified with were the Elves living in the forest of Lorien; grey-green, silver-green, lithe and supple figures flitting through the silvery-green moonlit woods of Lothlorien. Camouflage as well, but of a more subtle kind than the bright spring-coloured Hobbits from the Shire. In my youthful imagination, green stood for nature, the forests, moss; the colour so prevalent in the lush, dripping vegetation of Fiordland National Park in New Zealand; the landscape I spent much of my youth in. Grey reminded me of the mists surrounding that virgin vegetation. I associated it with silence, the quicksilver muting of my visual and audio surroundings, … mystery.
I had forgotten about the origin of my favourite colour-combination, only now that I’ve been asked as an adult; “what is your favourite colour?”, have I thought about it. I find that I am able to translate the childlike admiration for Green-Grey into my adult preferences. More’s the pity perhaps; I find it necessary to analyse my chromo-preference, but there it is; grey-green, silver-green, mossy sable; it is not merely camouflage anymore … but sophistication.
Anthropologists in Art, WM Gallery