Faye Wei Wei

December 11, 2019

Issac Watamaniuk

December 4, 2019

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The Bathroom

11/18/2019

It has just occurred to me that, as I’ve decided to begin this odd little tour through my home in the bathroom, I haven’t clearly charted a path that will lead me logically, horizontally across the verticality of the house that I hope to describe. I’ve decided the point of departure somewhat arbitrarily - or at least serendipitously - and I imagine that as I find myself at its doorway something of interest will likely guide me down the halls and into the next room. This seems simple enough for now. As for the finish line, I think it fitting that I end up in the studio - which is also located within the house (as it happens, it is situated directly under the bathroom). I feel as though most of my work begins someplace simple or odd around the house, and in this same manner it circles the studio until it finds its way to  its finish line, so to follow this trajectory feels in line with the logic of the paintings and the project of my work as a whole.

 

With that out of the way, let’s begin. If I think of anything else worth noting, I’ll bring it up as it becomes important. 

 

***

 

 

 

The bathroom in this house is fairly dated; it is pale blue with white accents, including the bathtub, toilet, and sink. It is a peculiar shape, with a small, slightly raised cove off of one side that houses the toilet like a little throne. The floor is very uneven - but I’m not here to talk about the floor. 

 

The walls of the bathroom are mostly covered with a light blue coloured tile. These tiles are square, measuring roughly six by six inches, and feature a pattern that combines two graphical elements. Upon the tiles’ light blue background are first a random pattern of small, slightly lighter blue roundish spots. These spots evoke soap bubbles. They appear to have been produced by dripping lighter coloured blue, or semi transparent white at random over the surface of the tiles. Secondly, there is a pattern that appears to overlay these background elements. Within the confines of each tile, consistent across all of them, is a pattern of scroll-like linear shapes that form a loosely assembled octagonal arrangement in the centre of the tile, almost touching the outer border of the tile. Each discrete segment of the eight sided form is comprised of an individual scroll shape, curling outwards from the centre, the volute-like swirls at each end or the line segments suggesting the corners of the octagonal form. In each corner of the tiles are small winged sunflower seed shaped accents. All of these elements are a darker blue than the round spot shapes and the background, and are slightly debossed into the surface of the tile which is otherwise mildly textured and uneven, albeit smooth, these minor surface variations only being visible in the glare of reflected light. 

 

The tiles are arranged in a grid pattern. When taken together on the walls, they combine visually across the grout lines to produce a sort of floral pattern, where the seed-like shapes in the corners of four neighbouring tiles across the intersection at the horizontal and vertical grout lines read like the centre of the flower. The octagon-like pattern of scrolls assemble visually across the tiles in a similar manner to suggest the petals. The outward curl of the volutes at the peaks of the of the octagon-like form read as an inward curl to the composite flowers; the negative space of these forms trading in visual hierarchy across the different readings of the forms as either flower or octagon.

 

The tiles comprise the lower half of the walls of the majority of the bathroom, with slight variations in height from one section of the bathroom to the next. For instance the area around the toilet has tiles that go up the wall one course higher than the immediate left and right walls. The tiles on the walls that surround the bathtub cover up to within two feet of the ceiling. At the top edges of all of the tile sections is a border of rectangular tiles. They are roughly one quarter of the height, and slightly wider than the square tiles so that the vertical grout lines in the border only sometimes line up with the verticals in the grid of the square tiles. These tiles are also blue, somewhere between the blue of the background and darker linear elements of the square tiles.
 

There are five hundred and fourteen whole square tiles. There are one hundred and thirty-six additional square tile segments that have been cut or are multiple fragments of a single tile. There are fifty-five whole pieces of the border tile, and seven more that have been cut or are fragments of a single tile. 

 

The grout in this bathroom is very curious. It isn’t grout. It seems that at some point a prior occupant of this house either came to the conclusion that the tiles required new grout - perhaps grout of a new colour - or perhaps it was installed in this manner initially; in any case, the tiles are not bordered with grout per say, but an off-white substance that is non-porous, and is vaguely reminiscent of old, dried out caulk, or some sort of glue. It can be scraped out in small pieces with relative ease. If one is prone to the semi-destructive and near automatic tendency to occupy one’s hands that I happen to require from time to time - picking at fingernails and scabs - then the duration of a short bath might include a minor, localized excavation of this curious material. It has been painted in several areas, but not everywhere. It was relatively haphazardly applied, as it spills and smudges over the edges and onto the surface of many of the tiles. 

 

On one of the walls there is a faucet to fill the bathtub. It is made of a polished, reflective silvery metal. It is flanked by two knobs, hot water on the left, and cold to the right. The function of the knobs is notable for its eschewal of the conventionally employed rotation-function relationship seen on most other two-knob faucets (lefty-loosey, etc.), these knobs are directionally opposed, the cold opening on the clockwise rotation, and the hot opening on the counter-clockwise. I have noticed this arrangement on kitchen faucets before, but never on a bathtub faucet.

 

The knobs are cast from a clear plastic. They are generally round, their forms comprised of various triangular facets so as to evoke cut gemstones or crystalware. They feature a circular cap that disguises a screw head beneath. These caps are made of plastic, coated in a metallic finish to resemble the central spout - as well as the circular flange-like pieces that cover the connections that extend through the surface of the wall at the base of each knob - and feature a debossed letter H and C respectively. 

 

The central spout piece is round towards the wall, tapering in and curving down towards its rectangular opening. This opening has become slightly uneven with corrosion and calcium buildup. There are two seams that run the length of its sides. On the top is a plunger that is lifted to engage the showerhead. 

 

The faucet seems to have been rather brutally installed, the body of the spout not seated against the wall, but protruding through it, the gaps around its perimeter having been filled with white silicone. The whole mechanism is coated in a light calcium and soap residue that clouds the fixture’s reflective surface. 

 

The showerhead is a hose-style that can be removed from its base. It is made from a similar combination of metal and metallic plastic. The hose is made from a sort of thin garden-hose like material. It is greyish-white and has a woven pattern on its surface that suggests that it is made from at least two layers, braided strands within a flexible sheath. The whole assembly connects to the wall from a downward angled pipe, at the end of which is a dark grey plastic fitting that connects the hose, and also incorporates two small tabs used to hold the removable part of the showerhead. The removable section is roughly the shape of the top half of a payphone receiver. It is made from that same metallic plastic again. The nozzle (I’m not quite sure what to call this section - the earpiece of the phone receiver) is the same dark grey plastic as the earlier fitting, and can be rotated to change the arrangement and force of the sprayed water.

 

There are three towel bars. Two are of the same simple design, composed of a section rod bent at both ends with mounting flanges at either side. One of these hangs from the other at the moment, the hanging bar having been removed from the backside of the door, and the installed one hidden behind the open door - The perfect spot to forget that they are there. The third towel bar is far more ornate, matching the style of the medicine cabinet and the toilet paper holder. It is made up of a brass-coloured fluted bar, flanked on either side by white finials that extend from circular flanges that meet the wall. These sections are embossed with an ornate decorative lace pattern. 

 

The toilet paper holder has the same circular base. From it extends a downward leaning upside down U shaped bar that holds the removable plastic spindle that holds the roll of toilet paper. The bar piece is relatively austere, its decorative tips finishing in a simple flared section and ball end.

 

Throughout the bathroom there are several small hooks. There are two near the bathtub, one with a floral-patterned base - probably a daisy, the other a very small circular round with a tapered base - these likely intended to hold various bathing accessories. Additionally, there are two nearly circular ones that flank the window, likely intended to secure the drawstrings of the blinds, and two above the window that used to hold a roller-blind. 

 

Finally there is the medicine cabinet. It is a large, wide-rectangular shape with two sliding glass doors. The frame is white, similar to the more ornate towel bar and the toilet paper holder, however the pattern that adorns its border is more geometric: an arrangement of small overlapped rectangles resemble a continuous line of plus symbols, individually slightly squatter than a medical cross, that cover the face of the cabinet’s fame. The corners are square rosette-like accents with a raised flower at their centres. The mirrors each have a small, dark brown coloured metal knob, again embossed with decorative flower pattern. Through use, these knobs have chipped small fragments away from the opposite sliding section of mirror, as they extend well beyond the clearance of the other door’s action. 

 

To the left of the cabinet is a standard white ground-fault circuit interrupter outlet. Its faceplate was installed when the bathroom was painted, so its edges are slightly overpainted. To the top of the cabinet there is a blank white cover plate that covers the location of an older outlet. It has also been touched with some paint around its edges. One of its screws is not fully seated, extending slightly forward from its face. 

 

***

 

This brings me to the doorway, and to my first decision. Left, or right?

 

 

 

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