Unison Colour has been making and retailing handmade soft pastels since 1987. We are based at Thorneyburn Old rectory in the Tarset valley in the Northumberland National Park about three miles from VARC at Highgreen. John Hersey began to make pastels for himself when he could not find the texture or colours that he wanted in manufactured pastels. We started to market the pastels a few years later when he had made a range of 180 colours. The landscape of Northumberland was always his inspiration and the 380 colours we now have reflect the wonderful variety and beauty of Tarset and the surrounding hills and valleys. We still use John’s original recipes which means that we only use traditional pigments which are exceptionally lightfast and have a great depth of tone. Our pastels are completely hand made and hand rolled. We feel that hand rolling produces the best texture. We are still a tiny company employing 16 people but our pastels are appreciated for their quality, texture and unique colours and we sell all over the world.

VARC artists in residence have used our products in a variety of ways over the years from pastel paintings of the landscape to piles of blotting paper (used for rolling and drying the pastels). We like to encourage young artists and to see the pastels used in new and innovative ways as well as for more traditional paintings. We are delighted to be able to support VARC by providing materials for a month long residency next year and look forward to seeing the artist’s response to our beautiful landscape.