Colour and space : an analysis of the relationships between colour meaning expression and the perception of space
This thesis examines the phenomenon of colour as a means of expression of meaning in spatial contexts. The nature of the underpinning project involved paintings and their integration with an architectural setting. Judgements made-in-situ by users of the building and an expert focus group (architects, designers and fine artists) were comparatively analysed for variance in interpretations of meaning, taking into consideration their experience with colour as a medium of expression. Commonalities and differences in the responses of colour amongst and between the various groups were also analysed. To achieve this a combination of questionnaires, semi-structured interviews, and focus group meetings were used as data sources. The researcher used her experience as a painter to create two large paintings (11.5m x 2m each), which were installed in the public space of the Manchester Bridgewater Concert Hall over a period of four months. One painting was predominantly blue and green, the other was predominantly yellow and red. The installation had two phases, in which the respective paintings were each installed separately and accompanied by a corresponding lighting scheme. Colours were separated into two temperature groups - warm and cold. However, previous research findings had indicated that responses to these two groups of colour differ along other dimensions also. What had not been established by previous research, and was examined in this project, was whether these indicative differences would apply when colour is approached as part of an holistic environmental meaning rather than in isolation. The integration of paintings and colour into the architectural setting made it possible for multiple layers of experience to be examined. Meaning was extracted from the relationship between colour and the perception of two dimensions of space - pictorial space depicted in the paintings and the architectural space. The relationship between both was also explored which allowed the confirmation of previous findings and the analysis of the variables which need to be addressed when dealing with colour for paintings in real architectural environments. The thesis describes the author's conceptual model based on a combination of this empirical evidence and theoretical framework developed from the existing interdisciplinary body of knowledge on colour. The thesis also discusses how relationships between the aesthetic and psychological categories were established. It contributes to the field by demonstrating how the subjectivity of the perceptual experience can be translated into the expression of meaning along cognitive and affective dimensions within the context of a real-life application of colour in space. Additional to the written thesis a short audiovisual provided in both video and CD Rom, was created to show both the making of the paintings and their installation at the Bridgewater Concert Hall.