Have you ever noticed the difference that a bright splash of colour can make to your frame of mind? More and more people seem to be aware, as immersive, colour-based experiences are popping up all over London – like East London yoga studio Chroma Yoga or Fred Butler’s recent Harmonics in Space exhibition at Now Gallery.

To learn more about colour’s incredible power to change how you feel, we chatted to artist Liz West about the way certain hues can spark memories and how to use it to create environments that make you feel happier and more productive. 

“I think colour can definitely change people’s mood and affect them mentally, physically and spiritually. When people come into my installations and bathe in complete spectrums of colour, they often have a very emotional response.

Liz West, Autumn Lights, 2016

A friend told me that as she stood in the orange section of one of my pieces, she was taken back to her grandmother’s house in the 1970s where her wallpaper was that exact same tone. She could smell the burnt toast and hear the radio. Colour has that amazing transportive ability.

Liz West, Our Colour, 2016

Different colours illicit different feelings and emotions from people, depending on your lived experiences of those colours. For me, I adore red. I find being in a red room very relaxing. I find reds, yellows, oranges warm and comforting – they remind me of being relaxed in hot climates. Whereas my husband’s holidays were always in the Lake District or Devon, so blues and greens are his happy place.

Liz West, Our Colour Reflection, 2016

My advice for people using colour in their homes or workplaces is to start by choosing a palate or a colour you love and then not to go far beyond it. Stay within the tonal range, even if it’s the lightest tone. That way, it will make sense to the eye as a complete environment.

Liz West, Vanishing Boundaries, 2013

I think that colour in public spaces is increasing with newly commissioned buildings starting to use more using coloured glass and vinyls. There’s a breed of architects and designers who adore colour and some are terrified of it because they don’t want to upset people – colour can be offensive if it’s used badly. Just because people like colour, doesn’t mean they actually know how to use it! If you haven’t studied colour theory, you can get it wrong and that can just give people a headache.

Liz West, Through No 3., 2015

I get inspiration from everywhere. We’re all attached to our mobile phones now and we’ve forgotten the art of looking. It’s to do with mindfulness, just being in the present and not being distracted from what’s in front of you. I get inspired by looking around, not just at one dimension but the colours and the reflections of the reflections.”

Listen below to Liz’s talk at Second Home Spitalfields:

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