Thing no.8

2006

For my art homework I have to draw the contents of the bathroom cabinet at home. I arrange the bottles, jars and plastic containers on a table and sketch their outlines. I’m good at shading. I enjoy spending half an hour rendering the crinkles in the metal toothpaste tube and carefully recreating the way the light plays within the curves and angles of the water glass. By the time I get to the antiperspirant I’m getting bored. A regular cylinder, it requires thousands of small strokes to make the shadow fall evenly as it fades in around the circular shape. I reach the tiny text running up the container and to relieve my boredom I start to insert random words – ‘cunt’, ‘fuck’, ‘dick’ etc.

My art-work gets a very high mark and is put on the classroom wall. Weeks later a small group of juniors starts to grow around the drawing. I am summoned to see my furious teacher. She holds the A4 piece of paper up so that the shiny graphite surface is facing me and asks me what I think she should do with it. I suggest that she gives it back but she disagrees. With her two hands in front of her, she tears the sheet slowly in half. She does this again with the two halves and then once more before handing the pieces back to me.