Using white and salt in my work.

Derek Jarman – Chroma (1994)

Extracts from the chapter’White Lies,’ Jarman explores the significance of white which also touches upon many of my own research interests; religious rituals, salt, pain, loss and purification 

“White is the dead mid-winter, pure and chaste, the snow-drop, Galanthus nivalis (Candlemas bells), decorated the churches on February the second, the feast of the Purification of the Virgin…but don’t bring those snowdrops into your house – they’ll bring you bad luck, you might even drop dead: the snowdrop is the flower of the dead, resembling a corpse in its shroud. White is the colour of mourning except in the Christian West where it is black – but the object of mourning is white. Whoever heard of a corpse in a black shroud?”


“One book opens another. The tears of Saturn from the wide salt sea. Salt is bitter and sad. Salt mines. The salt of the earth is its soul, so precious, if you drop it throw a pinch of it over your shoulder. The wisdom of an old salt. After the salt was blessed it was sprinkled in the baptismal waters. Christ is the salt which makes our earthly bodies incorruptible. Salt is the divine wisdom. So valuable is it, that it is places in jeweled reliquaries at the High Table. St. Hilary said, ‘Let the world be sprinkled with salt, not deluged with it.’ “


“All this white inherited from sport – sportif. The white that contrasted with the green of the pitch. Note that green and white are together again. This white needs self-control… you cannot spill a drink or mark the virgin cloth. Now only the foolish or very rich wear white, to wear white you cannot mix with the crowd, white is a lonely colour. It repels the unwashed, has a touch of paranoia, what are we shutting out? It takes hard work whitewashing.”