THE SIGNIFICANCE OF COLORS, AURAS AND EXPERIENCES – By Ethel Tawe

Colours are an essential part of the composition in photography and there is a real lack of understanding when it comes to colour. Generally, people don’t realize how important it is and it seems to be the case even with some of the more experienced visual artists out there in the world. Colours can be used to lead the viewer’s eyes and draw attention to certain parts of a photograph or it can express and influence a mood, it can also be used to communicate on an emotional level. The emotion part is very important. Colour is the primary factor responsible for making a photo feel exciting, lively, mysterious or perhaps melancholic. Colours are also directly linked to aura in photography, a mystical force that stems from a photographs unique presence in time and space. More recently, the practice of capturing one’s aura is trending again and visual artist who seeks to employ this medium use it to serve as a conduit for those seeking a new kind of self-exploration.

The experience of looking at a photograph is to feel a sense of appreciation for the past, and a sense of honour for the growth we’ve had in life. Conclusively, consider photography as a form of experiencing life in a much richer, vivid, and beautiful way. For our Journal Project, Random spoke to Ethel Tawe the storyteller and self-taught multidisciplinary artist keen on identity and diasporic cultures on her series of experiences captured while being on the Island in Dakar. Most of the photos were taken in 2016, and a few this January.

Can you talk briefly about what was your most memorable moment of being in Dakar?

My most memorable moment in Senegal was at Lac Rose, the pink lake just outside of Dakar. I felt so embraced by the tranquillity and the softness of the water in which no creatures can survive due to its salinity. I was there with my best friend and her father; we just paused and healed. It felt like a dream, a surreal moment in nature’s spa, which I promised myself to return to at least once every decade.


What is the importance of colour theory in your work?

I tend to gravitate towards earth tones, contrasted by vibrant hues. I love deep colours that are present in nature but are not always as apparent. In my art practice, I particularly enjoy painting with coffee and teas, and I think I subconsciously search for those hues when I photograph. Complementary blue and orange tones have followed my work for a while. Likely because they often signal healing or vigour for me.

Which visual artists inspire your visual expressions?

I go through many phases, and I must say a lot of my visuals are actually more directly inspired by words, stories, and music. I love history, classic African film and photography, especially feminist work. Right now I’m really enjoying Lorna Simpson and Wangechi Mutu’s work.


Why do you consider your art and style of documentation necessary?

In the same way, many of us yearn to manifest our dreams, I see my art as an outlet for the strange and beautiful things that go on in my head. Being able to express that is necessary. 


Why Dakar?

I went to Dakar to visit my best friend after not seeing her for 7 years. We lounged at the beach, explored and laughed for the month of October, and my heart was full. I came to fall in love with the city and it was that trip that actually solidified my decision to move back to the African continent after I finished my studies in London. Dakar is an important spiritual/cultural centre and also a model for the African Renaissance. I aimed to capture this essence in my documentation. 


You incorporate a lot of nature in your visual artistry, why is it important to you?


I’ve been thinking a lot about nature as technology, especially in this digital age. A lot of tech mimics nature or is supposed to facilitate it. I’m interested in that relationship. Aesthetically, it’s a means of escapism. I’ve lived in cities most of my life but my family lineage actually comes from a tea plantation village. I still see vast fields of green when I dream about my childhood summers there. That gives me peace.  

Find out more about her work HERE

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