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Victoria Finlay studied social anthropology at St Andrews University, specialising in Asian culture. She worked as a journalist in Hong Kong for eleven years, five of which were spent as arts editor for the South China Morning Post. She has recently moved back to England and is busy researching her second book - a biography of precious stones.
Photograph Â© Martin Palmer
Travels around the world discovering the origins of the pigments that make dyes and paint – totally fascinating. Spotted with historical fact, anecdotes, vivid descriptions and a deep appreciation of art, this is a wonderful book.
This is a irresistible and wonderfully illustrated exploration of the history of colour in art. The history of art is inseparable from the history of colour. And what a fascinating story they tell together: one that brims with an all-star cast of characters, eye-opening details, and unexpected detours through the annals of human civilization and scientific discovery. This book takes readers across the globe and over the centuries on an unforgettable tour through the brilliant history of color in art. Written for newcomers to the subject and aspiring young artists alike, Finlay's quest to uncover the origins and science of colour will beguile readers with its warm and conversational style. The rich narrative is illustrated in full colour throughout with 166 major works of art. Readers of this book will revel in a treasure trove of fun-filled facts and anecdotes. Were it not for Cleopatra, for instance, purple might not have become the royal color of the Western world. Without Napoleon, the black graphite pencil might never have found its way into the hands of Cezanne. Without mango-eating cows, the sunsets of Turner might have lost their shimmering glow. And were it not for the pigment cobalt blue, the halls of museums worldwide might still be filled with forged Vermeers.
Throughout history the desire for jewels has made and destroyed individual, families and even empires. Today, despite our ability to manufacture synthetics, gemstones still hold their appeal. Victoria Finlay investigates why in her extraordinary journey to uncover the hidden world of precious stones. The starting point is a sapphire given to her by her parents that was harvested, not by a miner as she had imagined but by men in muddy loincloths trawling a warm stream in Sri Lanka. The extraordinary travels in JEWELS: A SECRET HISTORY take her cycling along the Baltic Amber Route, down the emerald mines of Afghanistan. As we learn from a ruby trader in Burma, the more precious a jewel, the greater the human cost of acquiring it, and JEWELS: A SECRET HISTORY also explores the human histories of gemstones. Along the way we learn from Victoria, a qualified gemologist, how to grade a pearl, what New Age 'crystal therapy' is about, and why one of the rarest sapphires in the world is orange. Victoria Finlay's unique blending of travelogue and narrative history ensures that this book, the first for the general reader, will be as unforgettable as the stones themselves.
This book, arising from over twenty years experience of working with the world's major faiths, draws extensively upon joint World Bank and ARC (Alliance of Religion & Conservation) /WWF (World Wildlife Fund for Nature) projects world wide. It shows, through stories, land management, myths, investment policies, legends, advocacy and celebration, the role the major faiths have, do and can play in making the world a better place. The major faiths are the oldest institutions in the world and have survived essentially because they are constantly evolving and changing. There is much to be learnt by newer institutions such as the World Bank and the multitudes of NGOs about how to remain true to what you believe but change and grow as you develop. The book explores issues of climate change, forestry, asset management, education and biodiversity protection and does so using the techniques of the great faiths - storytelling, example and celebration. It reveals a variety of world views and it asks us to see that our personal view may be just one amongst many.The challenge of living with integrity in a pluralist world underlies the book and it offers models of how diversity is crucial in attempting to ensure we have a sustainable world.