The Pigment Project – Working with Nature.

19th April 2024

Since 2022 local artist, Louise Ann Wright, has been growing and foraging colour within the landscape of Cannon Hall Museum Park and Gardens to create pigments for use in watercolour and ink. Inspired many years ago by Victorian artist Able Hold, who is thought to have used pigments from the riverbed at Cannon Hall in his oil paintings (some of his paintings are on display at Cannon Hall at the moment), Louise wanted to explore the possibility of working sustainably and swapping colours which have travelled many miles for ones grown locally.

“It is becoming increasingly important to work more sustainably, both in the art I produce and the materials I use. In response to this, in 2020 I began making my own art materials in my small garden studio in Barnsley, exploring traditional and contemporary methods in watercolour and ink.

The residency at Cannon Hall has sparked a new theme of including pigments from my local environment within my work.

Recent examples include:

  • a black pigment made from the charcoal of the historic pear collection.
  • a grey pigment made from acorn caps.
  • a yellow pigment made from a clay brick found near the glasshouse, built in the grounds of Cannon Hall in 1785.

During the residency I grew indigo from seed and planted a small plot within the walled garden. Previously, I had purchased indigo from India and used a binding gum from Africa. By the end of the summer, I had grown a beautiful indigo pigment and foraged cherry sap to replace the binding gum, resulting in beautiful local colours which I have used in my watercolours and as a printing ink”.

As an ongoing exploration, there is no ending in sight and each year brings new discoveries and possibilities. This year, Louise has been exploring carbon black pigments in collaboration with University of Bristol students, studying in Barnsley. The group have foraged in the grounds of Cannon Hall and turned material into charcoal. The charcoal was then ground to a fine powder by hand and processed into ink and watercolour using traditional methods.

Findings from this collaboration along with examples from the past two years can be seen in this absorbing exhibition in the North Glass Range, Walled Garden, Cannon Hall Park & Gardens from 15 April – 2 June 2024

The Pigment Project – Working with Nature.