As my postbox collection grows and I start laying out the photographs in possible combination. I begin to notice the speaks and flashes of red sweeping in and out of the images. It’s what holds the typology together. Its also the colour I instantly clock onto now when I’m in the street. I see it everywhere now, part and parcel of the POST curse!

So in my travels recently I started thinking about the colour red. What of its history? Why are Postboxes red in the UK but not the rest of the world? Originally I thought it was chosen as red could be associated as a royal colour. However Postboxes where originally green and later changed to red to simply be more visible (A fact I learned at Postal Museum).

Nevertheless I research a little further into the colours history to see if I could find a quirky fact or a piece of history which I could include on one of my postcards. Obviously this lead me to the obvious:

Red association with blood, fire, life, vigor, authority, beauty, love, eroticism, joy, danger, prohibition, childhood, luxury, celebrations, war, religion, opposition, rebellion, pleasure, good luck, and entertainment.

Unfortunately for all its good and bad connotations I couldn’t find anything that quirky or interesting asides from:

“In the West, from the most ancient epochs, the colour red has been associated with the portrayal of power and the sacred.”

Which relates to my early idea of why I thought red was the colour of all British postboxes. Otherwise the best discovery is that in Russia, the word for “red” (красный) means beautiful.

Which is strangely fitting as the colour red in relation to photography reminds me of the Ukraine photographer Boris Mikhailov and his project “Red series” (1968-75).A project where Mikhailov obsessively documented fragments of reds in his daily travels. Photographing groups of people, objects and city life.

Boris Mikhailov
“Red series”

With red being the colour of communism the colour features everywhere, red literally dominates every photograph in the series. Which aside from the political differences makes a nice change from the drab colour platte you usually see in the towns or cities in the UK.

Boris Mikhailov
“Red series”

I really liked the series when I first saw it in the Tate Modern. Arranged rather haphazardly across the wall, In someways Mikhailov “Red series” is an unconventional typology. Worlds apart from the Bechers. Let I would be lying if I didn’t say Mikhailov has inspired me in someway. Lets hope POST has the same aesthetic beauty as Mikhailov “Red series.” Maybe then I will have achieved something!

Boris Mikhailov
“Red series”
At the Tate Modern, where I first viewed his work.


~ by stuartmatthewsphotography on April 24, 2013.

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