Taking a bath is a most joyful thing. And, making the time to take a bath, in these days, may even be seen as passive protest; a pause, a space to dream and a time to question what we really do value? Perhaps taking time out is the most radical thing we can do. To be sitting in a bath humming, is an act of resistance!
During lock-down and in self-isolation, many people have had time to reflect on what is truly of value to them.
I began by asking the question: Is bathing valid? But more broadly, this was a continuation of previous work which explored breathing spaces: – pauses – profound moments, activities and encounters which we experience daily, but which have no monetary value.
Living off-grid has made me more acutely aware of how dependent we are, and how caught up we are, in systems which perpetuate inequality, unsustainable production and unnecessary consumption. Our time is monetised, and bathing – (like ‘time wasting ‘ and daydreaming), is treated as non-essential, a luxury.
Over the last six months, I’ve been experimenting and exploring different off-grid, outdoor bathing experiences. You can read more about this here. I have lit fires under cast iron tubs in fields, tried out other peoples baths, made a steel bath tub from scratch, and invented a mobile heating system. You can see a short film, of me setting up and having one of my off-grid baths, below:
I have made an art practice from the process of taking time to bathe. You can see and hear my bath meditation performances here.
It all began when I obtained a cast iron bath with the idea of mounting it on a mobile frame which could be wheeled over a wood fire. Whilst making the initial frame, I realised that the weight of the cast iron bath would be a challenge to mobilise, and so began to collect bath tubs and to create multiple bathing installations, all of which, explored the immersive qualities of bathing in various outdoor locations. I created a bath tub from scratch out of old metal road signs welded together and I’m currently about to create another bath tub -this time a heart shaped one which I hope to tour around the UK.
There’s an exhilaration that comes with sitting in warm steamy water, in the outdoors, whilst listening to birds song, with nothing between you and the sky and the feeling of the cold air on your exposed skin.
I’ve decided that I really want others to share in this amazing experience, and I’m planning a project that will provide very special bath times to as many people as possible – especial those who don’t normally take time out for themselves like carers, workers, those suffering anxiety and stress, and people on the edges of society.
My dream is to create the Bath Bubble – a beautiful, mobile, heated, heart-shaped steel bath, which can be set up in any field, woodland or garden, for anyone to enjoy. I’m raising funding to make this happen at the moment.
If you can contribute, or share the fundraiser, I’d be very grateful. Perhaps you would like to have a go in the bath. or have a wonderful idea for a wild bath location to give to someone who would really benefit? Let me know and I’ll see if I can make it happen.