Earth colours - an ancient and brand new communication tool

According to the available knowledge, the use of earth colours has its origin at the beginning of the early Paleolithic Age (Upper Palaeolithic 40,000 to 8,000 years BC) in southern France and northern Spain.

Hidden in the caves, the works of the Stone Age people have been preserved for thousands of years. With paints made of earth pigments, bound with bird eggs, tree gum, fat, blood or animal excrement, animals, people and characters were

Nowadays, engaging with earth colours seems to be more of a niche affair for artists and scientists. Wrongly! The occupation with the colours of the earth and their creative possibilities opens up in a unique way for each individual at the same time a view of the context of life and history and the soil as our livelihood. In the context of the soil campaign of the government of Lower Austria "our soil -  we stand upon", earth colours from Lower Austrian soil were extracted in 2008 and used with great enthusiasm in educational institutions. The campaign and the following EU projects with partners from Austria and neighboring countries were very successful.

Over 100,000 people, mainly children and young people from Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Austria have already worked with earth colours from their home country, painted in creative competitions and at information stands and thus found more reference to "their soil" and their artistic competences as well. The basis of all projects is a painting box with up to 15 different types of regional "Colours of the Earth".

These colours of course differ according to the soil types of regions and soils
which are used for the production of these colours. On behalf of the Technical Department of Rural Development of the Lower Austrian Agricultural District Authorities, up to now more than 1,200 "soil colour painting boxes" have been produced for national and international projects. All work steps from extracting soil colours to sale and return / repair of painting boxes are performed by social enterprises, which renders this project sustainable as a whole.

Many topics can be dealt with integrally through "Painting with the colours of the Earth":
1. Topic of soil conservation
Rendering our soil visible: sensibly use - carefully protect soil!
I can only appreciate what I know.
Only what I appreciate, I will protect.
2. Topic of sustainability
In the production of the respective colours and painting boxes an integral sustainable concept is used. Production is only performed with persons with special needs in social enterprises. All materials used, such as, for instance, domestic wood, respects ecological criteria.
3. Topic of arts, history and (European) unity
For thousands of years, people have painted „with the colours of the Earth", i.e. with colour pigments, which have been extracted directly from soil. Historical natural and cultural changes can be read from soil. It serves as a carrier of information and culture and shows us a reality of prosperous coexistence without artificial boundaries.

Mutual learning and sustainability
Sustainable solutions cannot be found in the dialogue between politics and economy only.
A sustainable solution of environmental problems relevant to society necessarily requires an integration of science and the population (transdisciplinarity).
Mutual learning makes use of different types and sources of knowledge, in order to find appropriate and innovative solutions for environmental problems
relevant to society:
• Academic knowledge in various disciplines (interdisciplinarity)
• practical knowledge of experts in politics, economy, NGOs and so on
• knowledge from experience of the population as experts in their own surrounding world they live in

-> The total of this knowledge is greater and corrects the deviation of single perspectives!

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