Finding Distressed Textures at an Agriculture Museum

When wallpaper was the stuff people pasted and hung on walls, rather than the screen saver of a mobile phone or computer, I worked for a wallpaper company. We used the term ‘distressed textures’ to classify designs that did the role of a plain paper, but were more broken up and patchy. Some mimicked flaking plaster, rusted metal or grungy wood, others were abstract.

Designers took inspiration from all walks of life, and mood boards of patterned objects decorated the studio: inspiration for themed collections with titles such as Cairo and Great Plains.

I was reminded of those mood boards last month at the Ag Museum in Jackson, MS, where visual treats were everywhere, hidden in plain sight. Inspiration for Agricola, I imagined: a contemporary homage to farm implements. 

You might imagine old agricultural items would be utilitarian colours, but if that’s how these started out, time has evidently mellowed and played tricks with them. If you took the time to search out colour on painted metal or wood, it was sweet: red-pink and turquoise, with patches of green, sand and lilac. And rust.

Textures and patterns: pink and green

Some of the patterns and combinations were baffling. What could have made the wiggly pink lines in the image above? (I’ve been advised that what I call ‘pink’ should more properly be termed ‘barn red’. I don’t suppose the distinction much matters, unless you’re a farmer who doesn’t fancy having a pink tractor.)

Soft colour palette: agricultural machinery

When my eyes linger, I’m struck by the subtle variety of colours – there’s a whole array in just the pedals. Here are a few more examples:

Distressed textures: many colours revealed in flaking metal

Metal with flaking paint and lichens

Subtle colours in old metal: green, pink metal

After a while, you start to find glimpses of colour even in plain old rust:

Distressed textures: rust

I did not expect to leave an Agriculture Museum celebrating textures, or at least, not in such vibrant colours as these.

All images were taken at the Mississippi Agricultural & Forestry Museum, 1150 Lakeland Dr, Jackson, MS 39216-4728.

If you’re planning to visit, check out the Doctor’s Herb Garden. It’s looking good!

48 Replies to “Finding Distressed Textures at an Agriculture Museum”

  1. Love all the textures and colours, but Barn Red? Who’s kidding who? That’s definitely pink! And the patterns look like the scribbly gums in Australia – the zig-zag tracks or ‘scribbles’ are made by the moth grub. I suspect not the reason for your trails.

    1. The scribbles are a mystery. It vaguely reminded me of Dutch Elm disease. I can’t imagine anything eating metal, but that probably means my imagination needs beefing up.

  2. “Barn red”? I don’t think so. That aside: what a glorious collection. I will say I’ve never seen colors like these in decaying farm equipment, and I can’t help wondering if environmental conditions might help to create them. It would be interesting to compare levels and sorts of oxidation on different equipment brands, too. The base metals might make a difference.

    I was quite struck by the design on the seventh photo down. It recalled something I photographed on a local crepe myrtle tree some time ago. Art imitates life, and all that.

  3. The textures and colours here are delightful and would look great in mixed-media art. I haven’t come across ‘barn red’ before, but then I’m in the UK – it’s all pink to me, hehe!

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