Professor Lynda Nead: Greyscale and Colour

The Colour in Context Symposium is thrilled to welcome a Keynote Lecture from Professor Lynda Nead, Birkbeck, University of London. 

Greyscale and Colour: The Hues of Nation and Empire c.1945-60

11:00-12.15, Friday 23rd March 2018. In Seminar Room 1, 5th floor, Department of Film and Television, The Richmond Building, 105-115 Queens Road, Bristol BS8 1LN

Abstract: This lecture examines the symbolic languages of greyscale and colour as the filter for a history of post-war Britain c.1945-60. Memories of the late-1940s and 1950s are monochrome; people recall these years through veils of mist and shades of grey, conjuring images of black and white photography or newsreel. Greyness can only be the colour of the past through its relationships with colour, which take on a very specific significance in the context of post-war Britain. There was a distinctive quality to British colour as well as a particularly British way of dealing with it. For many professional photographers and cinematographers there was a look to British colour that differentiated it from European and American. It was as though the weather, the rain, had infiltrated the film stock and dyes and had diluted the intensity of the hues; British colour was infused with a nationalist ideology that defined it in terms of the weather: misty, restrained and subtle.

Lynda Nead is Pevsner Chair of History of Art at Birkbeck, University of London. Her research focusses primarily on British visual culture and she has published on a number of different aspects of this area including: Representations of Victorian femininity; The visual culture of the metropolis; Painting, photography and film c.1900; Post-war British art and culture. She has also published on the history and significance of the female nude, examining debates and images from antiquity to recent feminist interventions. I have also published on contemporary artists such as Chila Kumari Burman and Mark Quinn. Her many books include The Haunted Gallery: Painting, Photography and Film c. 1900 (London and New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008), Victorian Babylon: People, Streets and Images in Nineteenth Century London(London and New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000) and, most recently The Tiger in the Smoke: Art and Culture in Postwar Britain (London and New Haven: Yale University Press / Paul Mellon Studies in British Art, 2017). This book brings together a wide range of visual media and cultural debates that were generated in this period to represent the atmosphere of the nation in the new post-war environment. It includes fine art and photography, film, television and advertising. The book traces the expressive visual languages of black and white media and the diverse attempts within Britain in the post-war period to take on colour.

updated 21st  February 2018