Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Gruff Rhys's Toilet Art

This amazing picture from 1992 shows a pre-Super Furry Animals Gruff Rhys engaging in a bit of playful art terrorism. The future Welsh music legend was draping toilet paper down the steps of the National Museum in Cardiff as a protest against that institution’s lack of innovation and also its lack of contemporary Welsh art. Rhys said that the lines of toilet paper on the museum steps represented the Nod Cyfrin or the Secret Symbol of the Gorsedd of Bards. He cheerfully admitted that he often used lavatorial materials in his artworks, including multicoloured toilet brushes which he liked to stick on walls. He’s holding three toilet brushes in the above picture. Fans of Gruff Rhys will recognise that there has always been a strong conceptual dimension to his musical output as well as an employment of art prankster tactics, such as purchasing a tank or constructing a model hotel out of shampoo bottles. As he said himself back in 1992: “seduce the eye first, then get into the political message afterwards.” How about letting him represent Wales at a future Venice Biennale?

*Hotel Shampoo, which is just about the best thing he has ever done in my humble opinion, is out now on Ovni/Turnstile records.