Written by Felicity Ward


The Porcelain Bus

TripAdvisor covers hotels, cities, adventures, even goddamn cups of coffee! But who is reviewing the toilets? Enter Felicity Ward, who as a comedian and IBS sufferer takes the state of a public toilet very seriously.

Wim Delvoye’s Cloaca, a custom-built poo-making machine on display at MONA, although not, alas, in the actual toilets.

Wim Delvoye’s Cloaca, a custom-built poo-making machine on display at MONA, although not, alas, in the actual toilets.

LOCATION: Museum of Old and New Art
OCCASION: Before we hit the arty stuff, let’s do some farty stuff
URGENCY: Perfunctorily nervous at the possibility of not being many loos

Whenever I’ve found myself at the bottom of a mineshaft I’ve felt the need to go to the toilet. This has happened twice in my life: the first time was in an actual mineshaft in the year 2000 in Bolivia. As if the fear of getting hit by a free-flying coal trolley wasn’t enough to make me shit myself already, the fact that there was no toilet down there only made matters worse.

Sixteen years later I’m at the bottom of what is another mineshaft, but this time it’s an art gallery in Tasmania. And to my relief (pun intended) there are plenty of dunnies, and of the highest calibre.

Take a comfy seat and enjoy the film.

Take a comfy seat and enjoy the film.

(Quick background note: MONA is a gallery in Tasmania’s capital Hobart. It was set up independently, by a mad philanthropist who won most of his money through gambling. The restaurants/vineyard/live jazz takes place on top of the hill, while the art itself takes place underground. It’s astounding – worth going to Australia just to see this place alone. This is not a Yelp review – but I feel like context would be helpful.)

If you’re the type of person to take your phone to the bog to keep yourself occupied while you’re ‘occupied’ (i.e. everyone), MONA have got you covered. On the floor of each cubicle they project art video installations. Mine was about a combi van that was parked near the sea. That’s about all I could get out of it, but that’s art for you isn’t it? Like a trip to the toilet, sometimes it’s just shit.

So many incredible features to this underground bunker: the dense concrete walls mean that visitors can let loose an atomic stool akin to dynamite and passers-by would only hear the hum of a confusing video. What a dream come true!

Slick chrome and marble adorn the streamlined sink and black walls. They look the same as the double-sided mirrors they use in police interrogation rooms, but such was my fascination of what I was sitting in, I didn’t mind at all. Did I spend a little longer than I should in there because of it? Guilty as charged, officer!

I’m not sure if you had any super rich friends in the late 80s but that’s what this bathroom is. It’s an attempt to let you know that whatever you thought a bathroom could be, there is more… and you will never own it. It’s like an artistic retro throwback to 80s aspirational capitalism (I’m basing this on the film American Psycho).

Cleanliness: 10/10. I think mess would be too embarrassed to stick around.

Smell: Only of success.

Enough paper for you to start sketching out a masterpiece of your own.

Enough paper for you to start sketching out a masterpiece of your own.

Special Features: Among the myriad I’ve already mentioned, they had a double toilet roll holder. It’s the little things, you know. Just in case they don’t get back there in time to refill a roll, there’s a back-up. And not hidden up in one of those circular warrens.

Flush: Standard. Humble. Wall press.

Music: The soundtrack of confusing vintage art installations on Super 8 film.

Recommend to a friend? Yes to the point of no. I don’t want these toilets to become too popular. The only thing that will stop that from happening is of course the entry fee to the gallery. YAY!

Overall: 9.75/10 – if I had to criticise one thing, a more interesting flush button could have been used. Although I appreciate the simplicity of the ones that are there, I can’t help think that a quirky handle could have taken this experience into a little town called ‘the max.’

Read Felicity’s previous adventures in toiletland here.


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Written by Felicity Ward

Felicity Ward is an Australian comedian, writer, actor and full time knucklehead, based in the UK.