Ted Ochre

Red was your colour.

If not red, then white. But red

Was what you wrapped around you.

Blood-red. Was it blood?

Was it red-ochre, for warming the dead?

Haematite to make immortal

The precious heirloom bones, the family bones.

Extract from the poem ‘Red’ by Ted Hughes (married to Sylvia Plath when she committed suicide in 1963)

Haematite is an iron oxide and the name is derived from a Greek word meaning blood.
Ochre is clay that is coloured by varying amounts of haematite.

Pigment alchemy

Plant colours – Breathing of Cosmic Present

Mineral colours – Remembrance of Cosmic Past

Aniline colours – Coal tar, nitrogen demons

Where the sylph touches lightly upon the plant being, it transforms the sugar into colour. This relationship of the plant colour to sugar reveals itself in the fact that most of the plant colours are forms of glucose, that is, they still have an unformed sugar component. Plant colours contain no nitrogen. Indigo is an exception; it comes however from certain legumes – a plant family which occupies an exceptional position in regard to nitrogen.

Blossom colour sylphs
Leaf green undines
Root colour gnomes

Margarethe Hauschka-Stavenhagen