We are delighted to inform you that in March 2016 the European Commission issued its communication confirming that it will not adopt a REACH restriction on cadmium in artists’ paints. This is the best possible news for Artists and Art in Europe and across the World.
In 2013/4 the EU’s Chemical Agency responded to a Scandinavian request that attempted to reduce the quantity of cadmium batteries sent to land-fill waste across Europe. Alarmingly the proposed legislation made no allowance for the entirely safe cadmium compounds used in artists’ paints and if successfully adopted would have seen Cadmium banned from use by European paint makers. Without concerted and urgent effort, artists would have been deprived of the vibrant cadmium yellows, reds and oranges that have formed an essential part of the professional pallet since the 1840’s.
What we did and how you helped!
Cranfield Colours is a comparatively small UK paint maker but unrestricted by legal departments and press officers, Michael Craine, Rachel Volpé and Angela Brown set about raising awareness and speaking with the EU through the paint maker’s trade organisation CEPE. Art Magazines were early converts and joined the campaign to spread the word and encourage individual artists to use the online facility to contact the ECHA with their views.
Michael Craine recalls ‘It was a fascinating time through which we had a growing sense that perhaps the strength of our argument might win through. As a result of the publicity and further blogging by other enthusiasts and supporters, the story went global! We were contacted by British broad-sheet newspapers, the story was taken up by Emma-Jane Kirby of the BBC who interviewed me for broadcast on Radio 4’s PM program. We made it onto the BBC news. We appeared in the media in the USA, South Africa, Australia and the French and German press’.
The European Chemical Agency ECHA were impressed with both the reasonable, informed and strongly held views of the art world that pigments such as Cadmium Sulphide are perfect pigments. Perfectly safe, perfectly strong, wonderfully lightfast and opaque and of unique shades. There are alternatives but no replacements!
Rachel Volpé of Cranfield Colours comments that ‘Whilst we discussed the technical case for Cadmium pigments, many artists were passionately able to stress the economic and artistic importance of cadmiums as they uniquely bring warmth, light, strength and colour to paintings to stand the test of time’.
Have we won just a temporary reprieve?
This is more than a reprieve. The ECHA recognise our case and acknowledge the substance of our arguments.
‘This astonishing collaboration has taken up a great deal of time for me over the last two years and innumerable emails, meetings and conversations, but it was worth it!’ says Michael Craine.
Not only is the change of heart over Cadmium a joyous occasion in its own right, the fact that the artist fraternity is recognised as a community in its own right is an exciting development and one that should help us protect our mutual interests in the future. So congratulations and sincere thanks all round!
(ECHA: European Chemical Agency)