Landfill Editions and Toilet Services

This is my contribution to an upcoming publication by Landfill Editions. The premise was to work in response to The Gilbert Collection, originally housed at Somerset House and now at the V&A. Initially I looked online, where the collection is quite well represented, with some extraordinary snuffboxes, for example.

This, a "jewelled mother of pearl snuffbox, commissioned by Frederick the Great of Prussia, (probably made by) Daniel Baudesson (in) Germany (about 1775, comprising) mother of pearl, multi-coloured gold, cut diamonds, foil, citrine, amethyst, quartz and rubies".

Decided to go and draw, to get beyond the web edit and connect more with a functional root, however submerged by ornament. Given the luxurious premise, many of the objects' purpose is linked by a lack of human necessity. So, bonbonnières, index card holders, glove stretchers and so on. I also liked the concept of the Schatzkammer and its correlation with ongoing interests in the Wunderkammer and the Gesamtkunstwerk. This, above, became the focus; a 26 piece Toilet Service by Tobias Baur, c.1695.

A nice account of the Toilet Service here, including this contemporaneous verse, 'Mundus Muliebris: or the ladies dressing-room unlock'd and her toilette spread' by John Evelyn: 

A new Scene to us next presents, 
The Dressing-Room and Implements, 
Of Toilet Plate Gilt, and Emboss'd, 
And several other things of Cost, 

The Table Miroir, one Glue Pot, 
One for Pomatum, and whatnot? 
Of Washes Unguents and Cosmeticks, 
A pair of Silver Candlesticks; 

Snuffers and Snuff-dish, 
Boxes more, For Powders, Patches, Water Store, 
In silver Flasks, or Bottles, 
Cups Cover'd or open to wash chaps.

I like the nowaday vulgar downshift in connotation of the term 'toilet'. Certainly the miscellany of the components. Then considered the parallel oddness of contemporary toilet cabinet kit.

The overwrought wind tunnel design brought to bear on disposable toothbrushes, hi-octane gender archetyped shavers,... Also each objects' intimate morphology. Proximity to the interiorexterior body. Pharmecutical and fleshy. So this production line opulence is spliced with historical items.

Another long-held reference has been a piece by Neil Cummings and Marysia Lewandowska, seen at the Hayward Gallery's Material Culture exhibition back in 1998. I recall a photograph of a bathroom shelf, comprising twinned equivalents of typical ingredients such as deodorant, toothbrush, floss, brush, etc. A doubling-up of two lives in the same space, as if two occupants' use of the shelf years apart had been double-exposed. Or, as they put it, " two pairs of lives at either end of the century have been laid over one another, the similarities and differences can be found in the stored chaos of material possessions".

So I wanted to span this collection from 1695 to here and now. One bathroom as a locus of multiple ablutions.

Since discovered this Victorian hairwork on the very interesting and inspiring Ann Marie's Greenererpast blog. It appears to be linked to a process of mourning but need to read more.

The image will be Risographed in two colours, I think a flourescent pink and a teal (as above; fleshy and pharmecutical). Hugh is a great designer so will look forward to seeing the way in which he brings the contributed images together.

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