Monday, December 27, 2010

Grecian Blues

Image: Patriotic Blues

I’ve had a long, happy association with the colour blue. From my teen years when I actually looked halfway decent in a pair of blue denim jeans – to the blue t-shirts I still like to wear, the colour blue continues to feature prominently in my wardrobe.

One of the things I’ve been doing on Ikaria and to a lesser extent on the mainland is taking photographs of interesting settings which feature the colour blue. Greece has pretty much laid claim to a particular hue of the colour blue you see on the national flag. The colour is literally everywhere. On buses, door and window frames, and prominent in Greek architecture. For some reason or other, I seem to have noticed the colour a lot more during this trip than on previous visits.

The name I have given to this collection of images – some of which you can see here – is Grecian Blues.

Image: Recycled Blues

The colour seems to be especially popular on prefabricated window shutters and door frames, but I have also seen it used to highlight features on churches, fences, packaging materials and more. I’ve not seen such a wide use of one particular colour anywhere else in the world, although I’ve got no doubts examples exist. The Greeks though seem to have adopted blue as the national colour, if such a thing seems possible.

Image: Church Blues

Etymology and definitions: The modern English word blue comes from Middle English bleu or blewe, which in turn comes from Old French bleu, bleve, blöe, which are themselves of Germanic origin. [Source: Wikipedia... ]

Speaking of etymology, it would seem that Australians are the only nation that refer to red-haired men by the nickname, ‘Bluey’ or ‘Blue’. I’m not sure if there is a definitive answer for why we do this, but I did find one possible explanation online:

The term stems from the Victorian Goldfields in the 1860s. A large number of Irish folk immigrated to try their luck. A fair number of these folk were red headed men who quickly gained a reputation for their fondness of liquor, and fighting. So much so that on the occasion of a red headed Irishman passing by, the comment was often passed, "there goes a blue", i.e. a potential fight. This of course was stretched to "bluey" and also explains why women with red hair are not called ‘Blue’. [Source: Answer Bag… ]

Which only raises another question – why are fights or arguments referred to as ‘blues’? But let’s leave that one for another day, before I become completely sidetracked.

Image: Graffiti Blues

Some common connotations and associations for the color blue: ice, water, sky, sadness, winter, royalty, boys, cold, calm, magic, trueness, conservatism (universally), liberalism (in the USA), and capitalism.

Okay, getting all fetishistic about the colour blue might seem like a strange thing to be doing, given all the other options I have available to me, but I have become quite taken with the colour and its many uses and applications in Greece and on the island. Originally, I was only going to use one shade or hue of blue, but were just too many options and alternatives to that, so I have taken photographs of a wide range of objects and scenery. Even garden water pipes!

Image: Gardeners Blues

In the English language, blue may refer to the feeling of sadness [as in], "He was feeling blue". This is because blue was related to rain, or storms, and in Greek mythology, the god Zeus would make rain when he was sad (crying), and a storm when he was angry. Kyanos was a name used in Ancient Greek to refer to dark blue tile (in English it means blue-green or cyan). The phrase "feeling blue" is linked also to a custom among many old deepwater sailing ships. If the ship lost the captain or any of the officers during its voyage, she would fly blue flags and have a blue band painted along her entire hull when returning to home port. [Source: Wikepedia… ]

Ancient Greek apparently lacked a word for blue and Homer called the colour of the sea "wine dark", except that – as noted above – the word kyanos (cyan) was used for dark blue enamel. Blue is commonly used in the Western hemisphere to symbolize the male gender in contrast to pink which is used for females. And I’m sure most, if not all readers will be aware of the musical genre commonly referred to as the blues.

Image: Parking Blues


Back in 2009, Britain's Daily Telegraph in an article titled, Blue light 'makes you happy', reported on a study which showed that: "Despite the colour's gloomy connotations, exposure to blue light can increase confidence and boost happiness levels..."

The article goes on to say, "Researchers exposed a group of volunteers to a range of colours and lights. They found that blue and green made male subjects feel happier, while blue, purple and orange did the same for women." Also, "Blue and red improved confidence levels among men, while blue and purple were best in this respect for women…"

Interestingly, once I started on the project, I was amazed at just how widely used the colour was. Even garbage bags come in the colour.

Image: Yamaha Blues

Alternative therapies have their own take on the colour blue. In metaphysics blue is the color of truth, serenity and harmony, and helps to soothe the mind. According to the Crystal Links website: "It is good for cooling, calming, reconstructing and protecting." It is also good for "...raising frequency," whatever that means.

Holistically, "Blue is associated with the throat chakra, which deals with willpower and communication." The Holistic Online site also adds that "Blue is a calming color, good for curing insomnia. It can be used for throat problems, asthma, stress, and migraine, and it is good for improving verbal skills."

Image: Bedroom Blues

Shades of blue

Among the 52 types of blue listed on Wikipedia’s List of Colors page are Azure, Baby blue, Bleu de France, Bondi blue, Brandeis blue, Carolina blue, Ceil, Cerulean, Cobalt blue, Deep sky blue, Egyptian blue, Electric blue, Glaucous Han blue, Iceberg, Indigo, Majorelle Blue, Maya blue, Midnight blue, Palatinate blue, Periwinkle, Prussian blue, Sapphire, Sky blue, Steel blue, Teal and Ultramarine.

Oh, and then of course there is just plain, Blue.

Read more about the color blue here… (go on, you know you want to).

Yes, friends, it may be labouring the point, but there are a lot more images like these in my portfolio. If you are interested in checking them out head on over to my Flickr page and take a look. Or click here to launch a slideshow of all the images in my Flickr gallery.

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