The Caldarium Bathers
Through discussions with the client, we wanted in some way to capture the idea of relaxing and enjoying the act of bathing and drying. The piece is large, fits on the ‘dead’ piece of wall above a bath and based on the traditional ancient Roman bathing rooms, The Caldarium (one of three rooms used during bathing and which consisted of a hot plunge pool area), depicts a line of female figures which are calm, indulgent and relaxed in atmosphere.
The strength of the female forms was, for the location of the Ladies Master Bathroom En-suite incredibly important for me. The whole Roman bathing experience was very much based on relationships, friendships, and being together. Baths have increasingly become solitary places in domestic settings and I wanted to make a piece of work that depicted a line of figures that bought something of that narrative bathing experience/dialogue back to the act of bathing. The frieze by its nature, depicts in a narrative story telling motive a scene where the figures communicate a narrative dialogue of bathing. The drapery suggests towels, drapes and the near nakedness and sexual suggestion that exists when people are bathing.
The drawings in pencil were approved by the client and showed the plan for the panel with an overlay in tracing paper over the top indicating where the drapery will be located. (The drapery is cut out of the clay separately so has to be drawn out on a separate ‘cartoon’ in tracing paper and overlaid onto the figures before being pounced out).
Made in a water resistant Jesmonite this piece was given a bone like finish so there was a slight sheen to the work reminiscent of aged plaster and the neutral tone of the work co existed with the clients choice of interior design and the natural materials in the room.