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Unison Colour Pastels

the coach house

Unison Colour

Based in the Tarset Valley in the Northumberland National Park, Unison Colour produces almost half a million soft pastels annually out of their workshops & Coach House at Thorneyburn Old Rectory.

From here, pastels are dispatched across the globe to likeminded artists that share their beautiful vision of a world full of colour.


dry pigment powder

John Hersey

Born in 1925, John Hersey won a Rome Scholarship whilst studying at the Byam Shaw School of Art in London, travelling to and living in Italy for several years.  Upon returning to the UK, he continued to create artwork whilst simultaneously running his own business, "Fine Art Photography".

During this period, he even somehow found the time to marry Kate, the love of his life & have 4 children!

Drawn to the subtle beauty & clarity of light found in Northumberland, the entire family moved to an Old Rectory in the Northumberland National Park in 1980.


tray of pink pastels

Disappointment & Determination
"if you want something done right..."

As the years passed, John's passion for colour only intensified, culminating in him realising that commercially available pastels (regardless of their supposed "quality") were unsuitable for his needs.  Plagued with textural inconsistencies, a lack of structural resilience & a disappointing disregard for colour vibrancy or quality, they just didn't meet the standards one would expect.

Deciding to take matters into his own hands, he began working on methods of production, developing colour sequences & experimenting with a variety of textures in his pigments.  Working tirelessly for a considerable time, he finally achieved the quality he was striving for.

Travelling with his wife Kate to an art materials show, they sought to share the results of his labour with fellow pastellists, arriving armed with only their kitchen dresser & original colour range of 117 pastels.

Generating immediate interest, it was clear that John wasn't the only person disappointed in the pastels available at the time.  Having seemingly tapped into a shared passion for colour & quality amongst the creative community, Unison Colour was founded shortly thereafter.


rough pastels in progress of manufacturing

Signs of Growth

Starting from humble beginnings, pastels were originally being produced & dispatched directly out of the family home.  The Coach House was converted into a workshop, whilst the spare bedroom in the family home became a makeshift packing & storage area.

As the years went by, sales steadily grew, with word even spreading out to the US.  Over time, not only was an additional workshop constructed but also a more suitable, specified packing space that didn't encroach on the rest of the family.




Any company that experiences this kind of rapid expansion & sudden global identity can tell you that whilst it's undeniably exciting it does present new challenges.  Another company may take to adopting an automated process in order to keep up with demand, perhaps installing some form of machinery for picture perfect products every single time.

Not so with Unison Colour, who choose instead to remain steadfast, dedicated to their original vision.

Handmade soft pastels produced using only the finest-quality traditional pigments.
That's it, plain & simple.


If we've piqued your interest, click here to take a look at the range we have available!

Alternatively, if you're looking for more details on this or anything else on our site, feel free to speak to our team using the details below.

Telephone:  01303 290550

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