Dawn of new blue period

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The Independent Online
Margaret Thatcher's suits and Tory party billboards have robbed the colour blue of its innocence, according to a group of artists who want to reclaim the colour from 18 years of Conservative appropriation.

More than 80 artists have contributed to an exhibition in a coffee shop in Notting Hill, west London, on election night this Thursday that aims to emphasise the hue's associations with nature, religion and beauty.

Entitled "The Big Blue", the exhibition also examines the diversity of blue. It harks back to older associations such as the blue of Krishna, the Hindu god, and of lapis lazuli, the precious stone treasured throughout the ages. Before its association with Tatton sleaze, blue was used to symbolise purity.

Artists from as far afield as South Africa and Turkey are taking part, and the exhibition will feature work by Keith Collins, the lover of the late Derek Jarman, director of the film Blue.

The artist Mark Harris is giving the colour more radical political associations by using it to tint photographs of a race riot in America, while David Smithan overlays images of cloudy skies on the cafe's ceiling.

"Almost 20 years of Tory control has made the colour cynical," said the show's curator, Peter Lewis.

"When I first saw the Conservative Party's big blue posters, I felt the slogan prevented the blue from really working. Blue was a beautiful colour pigment that had no relation to party or corporate meaning," he said.

"We want to change the meaning of blue, now so caught up with individualism and corporatism, and return it to a symbol of democracy and hope. The ocean, the infinity of the sky and the heavens go beyond politics and suggest an innocence which has been lost by the appropriation of the colour for Conservative ideology."