The whole spectrum

The Blue Moments Project, (from left) Karen Hattaway, Jeff Sinnott, Dominic Stayne, Graeme...
The Blue Moments Project, (from left) Karen Hattaway, Jeff Sinnott, Dominic Stayne, Graeme Perkins, Laura Williamson and Angela Mote, has a full palette.
Colour therapy. It’s a thing, writes Liz Breslin.

Match your moods and your chakras, using colours that vibrate at different frequencies to bring a sense of wellbeing. Some practitioners use colourful threads; others have lights, wraps or scarves. In Wanaka we do it a bit differently, with a biennial serving of the Festival of Colour.

I’ve been involved in the festival during its past four outings. I used to be venue manager for the Crystal Palace. I made myself a "Princess of the Palace" name badge. And one time I got to tell a story on the stage. This time, though, I’m purely audience. And enjoying the colour therapy it brings. Here are some strands I’ve seen. 


The swathes of material on the ceiling of the Crystal Palace. The wine I drink there. Lady Rizo’s lipstick. Tami Neilson’s lipstick. (Although they’re probably both some fabulous specific diva shades of blaze, to be precise.) The sparks flailing off the bonfires, over the lake, on opening night, in time with Song Dispensary beats. Hudson’s and Hall’s aprons.

My bank statement after buying tickets. My face after looking at the bank statement after buying the tickets. The baked beans and lentils we’re going to be eating for the rest of forever. Although they are slightly orange. As were the sparks.


What we see comes from what we do not see. So, sort of, said St Paul, and so says Volker Gerling in his show, Portraits in Motion. Volker’s flip books are made from photos taken on an old skool camera with a noisy shutter that keeps going, at little intervals, until a whole analogue roll is churned. They’re mostly black-and-white, though there are some colour excursions and some very funny cellphone cards. And yes, I know that black and white are technically not colours because of their specific wavelengths. But that’s not the point.

Close, vulnerable moments and their shades. Kids with fishing rods, an old man in a baseball cap, a loved woman between her double lovers. A flipbook of a 13-year-old girl who hates her freckles because they look like pimples. Six years later, another of the same girl. Loving her freckles as a pimple disguise. A woman who cut all her hair off because she’s lost so much else, holding her ponytail. So much, so simple, in the black and white and gaps.


Sometimes life is blue. Sometimes you even want it that way. Which is why I’m looking forward so much to crying my way through Sadness Songs on Sunday. Until then, I’m still art-struck by the Blue Moments Project; they’ve got their own palette of blue hues shot by burnt orange and a mean turn of phrase. Deepest water, indigo dye, the colour of bruise. Words by Laura Williamson, composition and fluttering flute embouchure by Angela Mote. Smokin’ tunes rendered by a posse of Southern Lakes locals.  The show takes me, wave after wave, to a blue place just out of reach.


"The colour yellow" is number four on the life-affirming list in Every Brilliant Thing, a one-man heart-wrench about, among many other things, depression, suicide and the redemptive power of vinyl records. Yellow is also the colour of the post-it note on my knee, with the single word I have to call out when my number on the list comes up. Audience participation is key: the comedy is communal, we’re in it together, listening, listing, declaring love, providing counselling and vet services, across the square arena of chairs.

Before we go in, the kids try to make me promise not to cry. In public. Mum. It’s so embarrassing. And after the standing ovation, someone I’ve never met, sitting opposite, comes over and hugs me and my tears.  Number four might be yellow but the show is gold.


Let it not be so, though the Blue Moments crew say, "this is the truth that after you/everything else is beige". Friends talk about a "post-Festival slump" like the colour in our world disappears again. But you can’t unwatch, unhear, unsing, unsee, unlaugh, uncry, uncolour.

Add a Comment

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter