24 October 18: The colours of heraldry

When I was a little girl, my brother and I were occasionally looked after by an elderly dowager neighbour. She wouldn’t have known it but Miss Heaney was a fundamental part of my early colour tutelage. Firstly, on the back of her larder door was a bag stuffed with empty pastel-coloured, gilt-lettered food boxes from Fortnum & Mason and Harrods, saved for me and Tom to build things from when we went round. Secondly, Miss Heaney had purple soap in her bathroom and I remember pelting down her stairs two at a time to quiz her about its provenance the day I made this euphoric discovery (from Boots, apparently). Thirdly, Miss Heaney was fanatical about heraldry and I was fascinated by her delicate watercolours of coats of arms. She told me the colours were no ordinary colours but had special names which hailed from Norman French, like purpure, azure and argent. A stint at Miss Heaney’s was SO much more than being babysat. It was a true colour education.

Martha, The Colour File x

Leave a Reply