If you want to show off your art, put it in the toilet

The Museum of Old and New Art, located in Tasmania,  curated a collection of Picasso's in the women's toilets
The Museum of Old and New Art, located in Tasmania, curated a collection of Picasso's in the women's toilets - Instagram

For extraordinarily complex and convoluted reasons the Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) in Hobart, Tasmania, has hung some Picassos in its loos. Now, in the women’s washrooms of Mona, visitors can feast their eyes on the likes of The Luncheon on the Grass after Manet painted by Pablo Picasso. And I write “visitors,” because so right-on is the arts scene of Hobart that they self-identify in about as many categories as there are genders among funghi (about 36,000 [not joking]).

It’s a tribute, of course, to Mona that in spite of being the last stop-off point before Antarctica, they have managed to acquire and exhibit such names as Picasso and by popping them on the walls of the ladies’ loos, they are guaranteed serious attention.

Because as we all know, if you want people to notice something, bung it in the khazi. You can judge a restaurant by its loos; a dirty one suggests a chef has an untidy mind and when they’re not over-cooking your steak, they’re chasing cockroaches around the kitchen. Cleanliness being close to godliness: I was particularly excited recently to dine at a refurbished pub in Maida Vale called The Hero, having sniffed the gorgeous and elegant scent of a LO Studio diffuser in the gents.

People wonder why I linger in the loos of a nightclub called Maggie’s in the Fulham Road and then I reassure them that it’s because they play recordings of Margaret Thatcher’s speeches in there.

Loos must never be an after-thought in hospitality. The businessman Richard Caring has literally turned his lavatories into an art form at establishments such as Annabel’s, on London’s Berkeley Square, where mosaic glass adorns the walls, floors and ceilings. In the ladies’, a 500kg single piece of green onyx forms a giant crocodile basin. When it opened in 2019, it duly became a sensation on Instagram. Who needs a vast marketing budget for a new club when Victoria Beckham freely posts selfies from the powder room?

And similarly, in the wake of re-mortgaging the house to install a new swanky kitchen, one shouldn’t forget the cloakroom. You might have lush, rich Colefax and Fowler curtains in the drawing room and your cheese soufflés at dinner might rise and be fluffy, but it’s in the loo that your friends will judge you.

So while common sense might dictate that your most valuable painting should be hung in a sitting room, drawing room or hall, consider the can. And consider the character profile that is thus presented. Your enormous success rendered modest by displaying something so valuable where Percy is pointed at the porcelain.

The washroom is the sanctuary for the witty sayings of Churchill and Prince Philip. After a poor year, the publishing industry can rescue itself at Christmas by releasing a bunch of little (or should I say wee) books which you can’t help but grab as they nestle next to the tills at Waterstones.

The best sloe gin is that which is stored in the downstairs facility. A friend of mine instructs all visitors to give his large glass jar of gin, sloes and caster sugar a turn each time they visit the loo. With plenty of visitors over the winter months his mixture reaches perfection.

Our own at home was commandeered by me and is a deeply personal mix of pride and nostalgia. There’s a school photograph of my father’s house group from 1949, a school pic also of myself with the committee of the Stockton [political debating] Society from 1987 (No prizes for guessing the name of our Hon. Treasurer who went on to become an MP, and, no, Boris and Dave are older than me).

There’s a pic of me on a plane en-route to Antarctica, another of me as a choir boy in my teens, a framed copy of the Sunday Express from 1996 when I wrote a royal splash and a framed cartoon by Matt the day after I lost a job in a row with a vegan. And there are a few trophies, occasional awards for my scribbling and editing, although as the last one was in 2017, my pals exit the bog and eye me with pity at how it’s all gone down the pan since then.

Take your loo seriously: it’s your creative CV, the photo album you’re happy to share. So the next time you bag a Monet or a Dali, pop it in the john.