The sculpture takes the form of a large slice of toast cut into four 'soldiers': there is a black duck on top of the toast, and a yellow duck attached to a plug on a chain in front of it. The ducks sit unevenly on their sides, reminiscent of boats stranded at low tide. With the possible flooding of the site, the white duck will float up towards the black duck, bringing them closer together and then further apart as the flood subsides.The toast has words carved into the front of the slices that allude to the regular flooding of the washlands, and are associated with water, floods, and the Christian themes of baptism and fallen angels. These give us food for thought, with water being seen as both a precious gift from God and a potential source of disaster. There are marks up the side of the toast that resemble flood calibration measures. Yet despite these references, the overall style of the piece is quirky and humorous, with the ducks resembling those played with by infants at bathtime, and the 'toast' the pieces of bread children dip into their eggs. This childish tone is reinforced by the work's title, which alludes to the children's version of the biblical story of Noah's ark.
This sculpture forms part of the Washlands Sculpture Trail which was set up by the Borough of East Staffordshire's Leisure Services with support from the Burton and District Arts Council, Burton Civic Society, Burton-upon-Trent College and West Midlands Arts. Financial aid and materials were supplied by the sponsors and local businesses. The sculptures are intended to, "offer innovative interpretations of the natural, social and historical heritage of this unique area and its relevance to the people of Burton today". (1) The projects deliberately involved local people, especially schools and various community groups.
On a plinth near the sculpture: 'BATHTIME 2-BY-2/ BY S W BASTIK/ THIS SCULPTURE WAS UNVEILED BY/ PETER FEARNS, PRINCIPAL OF/ BURTON UPON TRENT TECHNICAL COLLEGE/ ON 18TH MAY 1995/ COMMISSIONED BY THE/ BOROUGH OF EAST STAFFORDSHIRE,/ BURTON UPON TRENT TECHNICAL COLLEGE,/ BURTON CIVIC SOCIETY,/ AND BURTON & DISTRICT ARTS COUNCIL, WITH SUPPORT IN KIND FROM/ THE TIDY HIRE GROUP,/ BATH AND PORTLAND STONE LIMITED,/ STRUCTURAL POLYMER SYSTEMS LIMITED/ AND REGIONAL RAILWAYS
(on the toast, across the four sections)
eat life, fragile weapon.37vb/ebb and flow, 22n tears rise +/fall 19vb. bathe weep bleed/56vb stream, ooze, trickle/rain, pour. 29n wash. Your/hands fallen angels.128n/water + dreams, golden one/borne up, immersed, make-/your head swim 44n. Hopes/soap bread + water. Flooded/food: baptized gift 16n.
(on the side of the toast, from bottom to top): 8n/17vb/29n/104n/40vb
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