All About Blue – The Colour That Changed the World


October 15, 1999 to April 9, 2000
CSAA’s 30th Anniversary Exhibition on the blue aspects of Asian ceramics and textiles.

The Canadian Society for Asian Arts, in collaboration with the Vancouver Museum and Vancouver-Yokohama Sister City Society, were pleased to present the exhibition “All About Blue: The Colour that Changed the World” from October 15, 1999 to April 9, 2000 at the Vancouver Museum.

bluedishes“All About Blue” traced the origins of blue, “the colour that changed the world,” through focusing on indigo and cobalt, the colouring substances for textiles and ceramics. Textiles, costumes, fashion, trade wares, and jewelry created from a wide range of techniques and materials were presented. The story of blue, from turquoise blue Egyptian amulets dating to the time of the Pharoahs to blue jeans and blues music, is a fascinating tale. The exhibit presented highlights in the history of blue through objects, familiar and new that pervade Asia and the West. The primary focus of the exhibition, and the catalogue that accompanied it, was indigo and cobalt. These twin substances, one vegetable and one mineral, were largely responsible for the blue textiles and ceramics created before the advent of synthesized blue colourants. With a cross-cultural perspective, the exhibit examined the uses of blue in the ancient world and contrasted these with current applications and designs for the future. The appearance of blue in the world and its journey across cultures and time provides a story of cultural influences, from East to West and back again that is still reflected in the blue-patterned coffee cups and denim workwear we use today.

bluekimono“All About Blue” has been recreated in “The Legacy of Blue”, a travelling exhibition that features over seventy-five objects selected from “All About Blue” and includes both contemporary and historical works in cloth, ceramic, glass and other materials. Indigo, cobalt and other blue colourants are featured in works that span Asia, Europe, South America and North America.

Featured in the travelling exhibition is the Indigo Millennial Quilt created by high school students in Vancouver, Canada. The quilt was commissioned by the CSAA and Vancouver-Yokohama Sister City Society as an educational-cultural project. Students in selected high schools prepared images on ten inch squares of textile, with which they later created wax resist indigo designs using a traditional Japanese Indigo dye technique. The students were asked to draw their ideas about the year 2000 and beyond. The Millennial Themes included people, jobs, clothing, buildings, transportation, food, trees, plants and animals. The quilt will be presented to the Mayor of Yokohama in recognition of Yokohamas’s continuing relations with Vancouver.
To order the catalogue “All About Blue” please email

“All About Blue” Travelling Exhibition Schedule

March 1 – March 31, 2001
Station House Gallery
Williams Lake, BC
Phone: 250 392 6113

April 1 – May 31, 2001
Museum at Campbell River
Campbell River, BC
Phone: 250 287 3103

June – September, 2001
Nanaimo District Museum
Nanaimo, BC
Phone: 250 753 1821

November 10 – February 23, 2002
Maltwood Art Museum and Gallery
Victoria, BC
Phone: 250 721 8298

March – May, 2002
Kitimat Centennial Museum
Kitimat, BC
Phone: 250 632 8950

September – January, 2002
Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Center
Yellowknife, NWT
Phone: 867 873 7321

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