Ahead of a special performance of Colours at the Italian Cultural Institute on 15th March, the writer Laura-Jane Foley gives readers of Miro magazine an exclusive insight into the show.

Colours is a musical and poetic project by composer Dimitri Scarlato with words by me.  I’ve combined a career as a creative writer and an academic specialising in English Literature and History of Art so this was a perfect art-inspired project for me to be involved in. Dimitri created a series of nine compositions inspired by nine colours and he asked me to respond to his work poetically.

Colour can stir such strong feelings within us and yet really it’s all about science – how the eye perceives what the object reflects. We’ve all had those conversations with our nearest and dearest where we ponder whether we all see the same thing. Is my red, your red, and how can we ever be sure we’re seeing the same thing? Researching this project, I became fascinated by chromatics and the history of colour in art.

The first pigments were created over 40,000 years ago by combining materials such as soil, charcoal, chalk and animal fats. You can imagine the thrill and excitement of the Paleolithic humans seeing intense reds, created by iron rich soil, daubed on the walls of caves for the first time.  What emotions did it arouse in them, I wonder? Because every response is valid. And I feel strongly about this. From the professor of colour theory to the toddler stepping in front of a colourful canvas for the first time, every response and reaction to a colour is personal, emotional and valid. What you will hear in Colours is the composer’s response to nine hues on the colour wheel. The accompanying poetry responds both to Dimitri’s music and, inevitably, directly to the colours themselves. What we’ve found in previous performances, is that our work sparks fascinating discussions afterwards amongst the audience about perception, philosophy and art. The Institute is hosting a Q&A with Dimitri and I after the performance so I’m really looking forward to engaging with the audience and discussing this fascinating subject in greater depth.

The event at the Italian Cultural Institute features the composer on the piano, Yuriy Chubarenko on the accordion and Agnieszka Teodorowska on the ‘cello. The words are read by the actor Alex Marx. The project was recorded in Rome at the end of the last year and an album is due to be released later this year.

Colours will be performed at the Italian Cultural Institute on Thursday 15th March from 7:30pm. Entry is free and for more information, visit the website here