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OUR STORY 2

 

 YES INDEED:

COLOUR MAKES PEOPLE HAPPY

There must be a special place for colour in my hippocampus. In yours too. It springs into action when a colour instantly summons up your first bike, an ex girlfriends dress, boyfriends jacket, or the sleeve of a cherished LP. Sometimes, it’s two juxtaposed colours, reminding you (even if you don’t make the conscious link) of a railway station you used to use, or a Grace Kelly outfit in Rear Window. It's a kind of PROUSTIAN magic.

I don’t think I knew all that back when I was painting beach houses on Long Island, and travelling into the city to restock at 

PEARL PAINTS

Arranged over five floors in Lower Manhattan, Pearl had been serving everyone since the 1920s from jobbing house painters to artists like  Pollock, Jasper Johns, Warhol, Elsworth Kelly and  David Byrne, and treating them all just the same. It’s luxury apartments now of course, but let’s not get into that.

But what I had begun to realise was that I really liked paint, and specialist shops with time for everyone. Which made that John Travolta line in Saturday Night Fever – 

“There must be more to life than working in a paint store” – problematic.

It seemed like a noble calling to me.

I’d heard that Amsterdam was the world’s capital of paint, so I left New Amsterdam for the old one, Here I met a man described to me as a rock n roll paint maker, Hans Luiken, I was not let down by a 6"5' man in leather pants and rather than a desk, a drum kit in his office with a mural of David Bowie and one of Keith Richard. With his help I developed, my own paint brand, Siècle. The idea was, we’d make the paint there, and sell it in London – it started with my first shop in Clapham my second in our 'Dutch colour cafe' in Waterloo and then became the first paint brand in Liberty of London.

Later after a brief hiatus I made a ramshackle premises in South London our home, a building so long that one end was in Peckham the other in East Dulwich. In The Peckham end we'd run occasional screenings of cinematic celebrations of colour, like the Umbrellas of Cherbourg.

We installed a messy spinning paint wheel where kids could create their own technicolour masterpieces and housed a gallery  for Camberwell graduates and local artists to exhibit.

Most of all,

I just wanted it to be a shop you could drop into and share significant colour-inspired moments of the kind you’re unlikely to get in a chain store. And go home with a headful of colours you instinctively liked, rather than those dictated to you by institutionalised ‘good taste’.

People tell me I make choosing colours for their home fun.

That’ll do for me.