Pigments: where art meets chemistry

Pigments: where art meets chemistry

Posted by Nic Bygrave on Aug 20, 2015 11:44 am

Kent Local Section lecture highlights the connection

Our members, their guests and members of the public from all over Kent had a chance to be enthused by the science secrets behind artists’ pigments at the Turner Contemporary Gallery on Margate seafront in August. The Kent Local Section organised this event to highlight the crossover between chemistry and art by bringing together scientists and artists to discover the rich background behind pigments and dyes. It tied in with many other events and activities around chemistry and art that we organised this year.

Visitors were treated to a history of pigments and dyes by Nicholas Walt, director of L Cornellissen & Son Artists’ Colourmen. In his talk, Walt detailed the production of the pigment Indian Yellow, chemically the magnesium salt of euxanthic acid, which was last made in a remote Indian village in 1908 using concentrated urine from cattle fed on a diet rich in mango leaves. Guests enjoyed a sensory experience as they had the chance to see and smell this pigment.

Mark Botting of the Kent Local Section commented that “guests were inspired and interested to learn about the difference an element can make”, as award-winning artist Yanko Tihov explained the loss of paint quality that accompanied the move away from traditional chromium and lead-based pigments towards less toxic zinc and titanium replacements.

The event finished with a display of nature’s own painting handiwork, as the sun set in magnificent colours over the sea, and guests left with a Pompeii Red pigment sample donated by Walt and a new understanding of the connections between chemistry and art.

Want to reply?

You must be signed in to MyRSC to respond to forum posts. If you're not currently a member, you can register for free.