Daily rituals

Hadrian Pigott, Instrument of Hygiene (Case 4), 1995

I’ve always been interested in the way we muddle through life and the daily routines most of us construct – at least, I don’t think it’s just me – to get through the day and feel vaguely in control of something, anything, however mundane. We are, by nature, creatures of habit to a greater or lesser extent. Before you know it, routines become rituals and it becomes unthinkable to break the sequence. One of the most ritualised aspects of daily life is often personal hygiene.

Hadrian Pigott’s work takes neuroses about hygiene and turns them into art that makes me feel that little bit more normal (what ever that is). His Instruments of Hygiene, cases containing everything needed to install one’s own wash basin should the need arise, are beautiful and funny and above all, for me at least, cause a slight frisson of recognition.

Hadrian Pigott, Instrument of Hygiene (Case 1), 1994

In velvet-lined cases, reminiscent of musical instrument cases, these wash basins, pipes and soap talk of anxieties around hygiene and the need to know that rituals of washing can continue undisrupted wherever we may find ourselves.

Hadrian Pigott, Dirt Urgent, 1994

Pigott goes further. In an exhibition in a show flat in London sometime in the 1990s (my memory is hazy on the details, but clear on the work), he broke his own morning ablutions down into stages (it’s a long time ago, but about nineteen stages, I think) and installed a series of soap dishes around the bath, each bar of soap imprinted with the name of the body part it would be used for. In the absence of a good picture – WordPress is good but it won’t (yet) let me download images from my mind’s eye – I’ll make do with Dirt Urgent. Any bar of soap in a storm. Or something.

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