Daily Archives: January 25, 2014

A Weekly Honing: Yellow: The Amber Lake


The Amber Lake

This week’s word to contemplate from Hone Life, is yellow. (Do check out Hone Life for the complete collection of reflections on the word of the week).

Though yellow conjures up sunshine and spring – warmth, growth, abundance, renewal – for me it’s a difficult colour to work with as an artist – it’s a bullying colour – and I can’t go near the yellow of a rapeseed crop in full bloom; that’s a yellow that plunges hot pokers into my eyes. I was pondering how to write sympathetically about yellow while working on a little mixed media collage/assemblage. The penny dropped when coating the substrate with shellac. I was using amber shellac. I thought immediately of heavy water.

This is the heavy water Gaston Bachelard writes about in Water and Dreams: An Essay on the Imagination of Matter. It’s in reference to the poems of Edgar Allen Poe and Bachelard admits in his observations to drawing on the analysis of Poe’s works by Freud enthusiast and benefactor Marie Bonaparte.

Amber is fossilised pine tree resin, secreted in response to injury, to seal and sterilise. It is probably observation of this which led to medicinal uses of amber, which date back to the time of Hippocrates, and forward to the early 20th century. One could say then of amber that it is a yellow which heals. Continue reading

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