By Chris Adams
No, they’re not taking the p**s: these men’s URINALS have been turned into art – including one that contains in-built drinking water fountain.
The luxury loos have been given a glamorous makeover to celebrate toilet manufacturer Armitage Shanks’s 200th birthday.
And far from being bog-standard, they’re influenced by celebrated French artist Marcel Duchamp, who was famously met with a backlash when he presented an upturned urinal – a sculpture known as ‘Readymade’ – as a piece of art in 1817.
The 45 unique urinals, one of which is entirely gold, are on display as part of the Fountain17 exhibition in Hull as part of its 2017 UK City Of Culture programme.
Armitage Shanks, Hull-based bathroom manufacturers Ideal Standard, and students at Hull School of Art and Design have all collaborated on the project.
Duchamp’s sculpture was rejected by the Society of Independent Artists when he submitted it in 1917 by critics who said it ‘wasn’t art’, but in 2004 art professionals voted it the most influential artwork of the 20th century.
Tony Rheinberg, from Ideal Standard and Fountain17, said: “We have been absolutely delighted with the standard of entry which our call out to artists has generated.
“Fountain17 comprises a wide breadth of artwork in a variety of mediums and it has been fascinating to see how one iconic piece of art could create such a mix of pieces.
“As the best known washroom product manufacturer it seems entirely fitting that our foray into the world of art has been driven by Duchamp’s Fountain.
“The exhibition is something truly unique and I hope it will become a highlight of our city’s celebrations for what is an exciting year for Hull and Armitage Shanks alike.”
All of the artworks will be auctioned for charity as part of the Armitage Thanks campaign, an ongoing charitable project organised by Armitage Shanks which aims to raise £200,000 as part of the business’ 200th anniversary year.
The proceeds from the auction will be split equally between Bowel Cancer UK and the Hull Samaritans.
Martin Green, director of Hull 2017, said: “Duchamp’s ‘Readymade’ is about seeing things in a different way, which chimes with the spirit of Hull.
“Fountain17 is bringing emerging and established artists together to embrace the spirit of one of the key figures in modern art and work that went on to inspire the likes of Blade.
“It promises to be a fascinating insight into where it all began.”
Those contributing work include Turner Prize winning collective Assemble, renowned author and poet Lemn Sissay MBE, award-winning designer Ben Kelly, Hull School of Art and Design alumnus sculptor Neville Gabie, artists Anna Bean, Andy Dakin and Adele Howitt, plus a host of others.
The free Fountain17 exhibition runs until May 14 at Kingston Art Gallery, Eleven, Humber Street Gallery and Brodrick Gallery in Hull, before moving to London as part of Clerkenwell Design Week; and then on to the Gladstone Museum in Stoke.