Responses to the soap in boxes.

• Sneezy
• Exotic places
• Childhood baths
• Elderly ladies
• Spring breeze

• Hotels
• soaps brought back from France as a present
• when we were kids
• menthol shampoo
• laundry
• yuck
• soapy cucumber
• granny
• lemon sherbet
• toilet duck
• imperial leather

• Caretakers
• Hippy
• Cycle tyres
• Hotel soap
• Industrial
• Lemon
• Family

• Wrights Coal Tar, my father

• Is 10 imperial leather? A soap I would buy my father every Christmas

• School soap
• Cheap soap
• Sandy soap
• Soft soap
• Swimming soap
• Lost soap
• Agreeable soap
• insoluble soap
• grey soap
• floor soap
• soggy soap
• cracked soap
• liquid squeezy soap
• liquid tip-up
• liquid ooze out soap
• fragrant sneeze soap
• multipack regretted soap

• kids would never smile and never whiff if soap could clean with just a sniff

• Sunlight (fairy) Doing washing in the river, on a smooth flat stone

• Hospital
• lemongrass/bergamot
• jasmine
• rats will eat soap my friend Kerry will always be found in the soap isle – smelling and opening the lids of shampoos
• musky/patchouli/Indian soap
• bubblegum
• mop buckets and caretakers
• childhood
• soap for washing clothes is great

• The smell of Coal Tar soap reminds me of my grandfather, who used to spend and hour in the bathroom reading or rather looking at porn which he hid inside the cover of the Radio Times.

• Evokes an imaginary Victorian childhood
• Proper soap –clean soap
• Smells that hide

• Fairy Liquid as shampoo
• Lots of squeezy bottles for Blue Peter projects (just in case)
• Roger Gallet soap in Mum’s knicker drawer, hidden pearl
• Never wash with it, it’s a waste of fragrance

• Lemony fragrant squeezy
• Oily
• Super lemony/ disinfectant
• Floral Victorian
• Hotel bath
• Coal Tar – manly
• Herbal medicine
• Fresh lemon woods

• Refreshers
• School floors
• My mum’s bedroom drawer
• Poster paints

Queuing to sniff, I get a whiff
Of Ricketts leather Camay
And Sunlights light
Mild fairy boys
To pears of Castile Lux
And here we trail off cos we lost the soap plot.

• chemically over scented
• pungent
• overwhelming loos and school

• Junior school
• Childhood bath time
• Pot porri
• Gran's
• Bonfire night
• Well to do B&B owner
• Music course near Alton Towers
• Opal fruits
• Herbal bath salts
• Too much soap wont come off in soft water

My young son threw a very expensive soap from the Middle East that his grandma had brought back froma holiday into the garden bushes – it was never found again.

I still remember as a child using “Le Chat” soap. A square block of white soap. I would be frantically washing my hands with this soap until eventually it dissolved to a small lump hiding a glass marble I wanted to get: i.e. “the cats eye”.

Lemon for me every time

soap associations...from the 20th September

Soap is one of the very first manufactured products a baby will come into contact with, and use every day thereafter…………

I have written some of my own soap associations, followed by contributions written by those who attended Artwash on September 20th 2008. everyone was asked to reflect upon and write about any soap associations which came to mind. As some people sniffed the hanging soap boxes for inspiration, some of the contributions are presented as lists relating to particular boxes, mostly describing or trying to identify the hidden smells.

My earliest memories are not of a particular brand, but sensation. Being ‘soaped’ by my mother very systematically and efficiently sliding the bar all over me and rinsing me, leaving me smelling very clean and fresh and ready for bed, and loving that feeling.

Slightly later my memories are Coal Tar soap, lost in the bath and frantic scrambling to try and retrieve it before it became totally soggy and unusable.

I loved turning over a well worn ‘bar’ in my palms and the slipperiness of the sensation. I didn’t like the roughness of a new bar to touch, but I loved unwrapping it for it had a powerfully strong smell which diminished with use.

More well-off friends had rather luxurious soap, the most exotic being Roger Gallet for me. This was bohemian and smelt fantastic and I aspired to owning some. It also came in expensive looking wrapping.

My grandmother used rather dull Imperial Leather which with its pointy ends. Consistent. Every Christmas I went to Boswells and bought her Bronleys lemon soap. Which was a perfect lemon shape and smell, and used to come in wooden boxes.

Maggie says that lots of people attending her G.U clinic (Genitourinary medicine clinics) with undiagnosed rashes ‘down below’, when asked which soap they used, they invariably said Imperial Leather. The doctors were never sure whether this was the source of the problem, or if they gave that brand name because the patient thought it more respectable than the cheap bar that they were ACTUALLY USING.

I always was a bit dismayed by people sticking the left over bits of soap together. It seemed dismal and, doubtless economic.

I remember one bar I had that had oats or something in it, and was a bit gritty and so scrubbed and soaped all in one. That was exciting.

In France we used huge, unwieldy blocks of Marseille soap to wash the laundry, rubbing the clothes against washing boards or on the draining board. It was a pleasure to do as the smell was fantastic, and as the base oil was olive, it was very gentle on the hands. You rarely saw one of those blocks get really small.

As a child on camping holidays, after a poo in the lav, bars of cheap carbolic soap awaited you, covered in pieces of dead grass, by a bowl of cold grey soapy water topped with scum.

Right now I use Pears which combines great smell with lovely semi transparent visual pleasure. My friend's Mum brings me Maja from Spain which smells unbelievably exotic.

September '08

What a great night of written thoughts and sniffs and smells and more.
Matt Black started off the evening with great humour, thoughtfulness and smiles.
Chess then took on the baton with a visual and nasal trip down memory lanes.
Boxes with different soaps were hanging ready to be sniffed -with that the memories came flooding back. Some of these will be shared on the blog later.
Strangely, the different smells of soaps were mainly associated with fathers...
To finish the evening Matt gave us a great performance of his -farsidesque- poem about those all so sweet sheep.

July 2008

Headington Quarry Morris Dancers-
Perhaps you have felt a little bemused by Morris dancing?
I certainly have been in the past- and to a degree I still am.
That is until I was able to meet with this group who have a wealth of knowledge of this 'olde' English Tradition- or not so English- but always fascinating.

June 2008

Graham Lister
is a site specific show of paintings of people waiting on their ‘cycles’ to end in their local laundrette. The works are based around the type of wash each sitter is waiting for. The titles refer to my impression of the specifics of each wash; in terms of colour, content and spin cycle. The photocopies, titles, colours and symbols combine to create overall tongue-in-cheek abstracted painted outcomes, focused on the notion of ‘waiting on the washing’.

Scottish artist, Graham Lister has created WAITING ON THE WASHING especially for ‘Artwash’ in Oxford. His recent works have been focused around the idea of creating painted outcomes from simplified, photocopies of original photographs. His art practice combines copies of real images with overstated, bold colours and symbols.

Graham Lister has had considerable success as a young contemporary artist. He received a Masters degree in Art History from Glasgow University in 2005 and a Masters in Fine Art from Gray’s School of Art in 2007. Since then he has been nominated for the Mercury Art Prize, has had solo shows in London and Glasgow. His photocopy paintings have also been shown in group shows in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Birmingham and in Toronto. He is currently artist-in-residence for North Lanarkshire and has numerous upcoming solo projects across the UK.

May 2008

Jessica Rost
"Gasping Goldie"
We are all drowning all the time…in life. One person’s comfort zone is another’s anxiety. We may be innocent in purpose but how often do we really understand one another?
Gasping Goldie is, on one level, about human ignorance, our inability to understand truly a situation before we react. But on another level it is the story of a creative struggle, a soul gasping to survive unnoticed. There is more than one way to drown.
Jessica told us after the performance that it was based on a childhood experience of wanting to show her pet Goldfish the big world beyond it's bowl.

you can see a pod cast ... Select either link below. Norcottarts%20Adult%20C...

April 2008

Fiona Robyn-Poetry
Fiona is a writer and blogger interested in finding wonder through paying attention to the everyday and to the ordinary. She is influenced by Zen thinking, voluntary simplicity, and other writers (Raymond Carver, Annie Dillard, Mary Oliver, Natalie Goldberg etc. etc. etc.) She writes novels, poetry and miscellany.

The evening at ArtWash will begin with Fiona reading poetry from her first collection, Living Things. This will be followed by a 'group reading' (participation welcome) from Small Stones, Fiona’s daily blog, of short texts concerning small scale overlooked observations. The evening rounds off with a discussion, which may cover any of the following areas, writing, discipline in consistently writing, blogging, publishing online and in book form and anything else that comes up. Bring a cushion or stool if you feel like sitting.

You can find Fiona’s work at at and her blog is at
Hope to see you on the 20th

March 2008

Esther Ainsworth presents Spring Clean 08.
Esther is a practising Artist and DJ currently based in London. Working with sound, audience participation, and performance. Esther's work concentrates on the miniscule details within our surroundings that can become so familiar that they are no longer noticed. Utilising technology Esther transforms information and casts it back into similar or differing environments to create an unexpected disorder. Recent collaborations have included commissions for East Sussex Council, The Ryder Project, New York, and most recently The Roundhouse, Camden.

Spring Clean is an interactive sound performance installation allowing the audience the opportunity to submit materials which will form the content of the work the idea for this piece exists around the mundane, the wine stain, the spillage of milk, dirty finger prints on a white shirt. Every mark made which has a story which we negate or wash away thus recreating the disposable everyday.

February 2008

David Brinkworth- Sound
David is interested in environments,
this has led to a number of performances in sound,
installation and performance around the country.
These events share similar ground conceptually to
Brian Eno and his greatly influential Music for Airports
and is also greatly influenced by the wondrous repetition
and experimentation of many of the German so named krautrock bands of the early 70’s.

Note; MAQ is in fact a quartet of one, however, occasionally when the situation is right there are a number of assorted instruments available so members of the general public can join the quartet if they so wish, therefore for the February ArtWash event you are warmly invited to became part of MAQ’s performance or simply watch.

January 2008

We're back!
Vicky Vergou
Odyssey Part 2
Video installation
Vicky was born in Greece in 1964 where she studied Fine Arts,
Film Studies and Graphic Design (BA).
Her work is based on personal experience,
focusing on the issues of identity, immigration, and mortality.
It is a therapeutic progression towards acceptance and serenity.


Other Commitments by all involved in ArtWash meant that ArtWash was on ice for this period- Sorry

September 2007

Extended summer-break!

August 2007

Summer break

July 2007

David Thwaites & Nomi Everall

The home of the single sock!

David Thwaites is in the ***Wash for July.

David of Pegasus Theatre fame
will be present to talk us through and to start us off
on a Geocach 'travel bug'- the journey of the 'Single Sock'.

We will be sending the single socks off on a race from
Oxford to Edinburgh and back again where the single socks
will be reunited in a romantic fashion.
It will all become clear...
Same place same time!

June 2007

Lee-Anne Hampson
A young artist, whose latest work has been
inspired by working in Papua New Guinea.
Whilst there Lee-Anne discovered various tribes
believe that when you die your spirit turns to a fish
and returns to its clan.
By showing at ***Wash Lee-Anne wants to explore
the juxtaposition of the tribal art styles alongside
the industrialised machinery of the western world
linked by the theme of water.

May 2007

ArtWash Collaborations-
Interactive, experimental performance around the theme of water.

April 2007

Louise Tyalor
Video artist

A great evening hearing more about
various film makers who Louise has
drawn inspiration from.

March 2007

Cathy Ryan
Cathy is an actor, poet and a 5 Rhythms teacher,
working in the UK and Europe, using the 5 Rhythms
as a creative tool for performance.

February 2007

Matt Wells-
Matthew Wells is an artists based in Carlisle. Formerly a member of Eyelevel Artists (2005-06), he now seeks to make art that is more accessible to the public. By accessible, he means to subvert the context of art - specifically its place - in terms of where it is exhibited.
The simplicity of Classified Ad adds up to a process of collaboration with place or site, juxtaposed with the architectural dynamics of a newspaper i.e. the schematic layout of a page. But what this work really posses, is not just the artifice of the context of art, but also the question of what really constitutes a work of art.
This was ArtWash's first long distance Event. Rather than Matt being with us on the evening we talked to him via Mobile phone. A strange experience to say the least.

December 2006

Mick Harket & George O'Shaugnessy

Painting 'vs' Drawings

November 2006


'art' can be fun...

October 2006

Barry Reeves
Performance reflecting on our relationship with instructions...

September 2006

Helen Edwards-
A Dance performance working with the Oxford Improvisers.

July 2006

George Mogg & Ann Rapstoff-
"Warp and Weft"
A Participatory piece and a chance to catch up with all the repairs that get put off.

June 2006

Diane Jones Perry & Annabel Ralphs with Metron-
a work that has grown and moved on since being shown at ArtWash.