Daily activities such as washing and dressing are often shown in paintings, but only rarely provide the central focus of a film. 

Films showing in this section: 

12:39 - Richard Massingham The Five Inch Bather 1942
12:41 - Bruce Lacey and Jill Bruce How to Have a Bath 1971
12:49 - Helen Chadwick Domestic Sanitation, Latex Glamour Rodeo about 1976

Richard Massingham The Five Inch Bather 1942

2 minutes. Collection: BFI National Film & Television Archive 

Richard Massingham was a self-taught filmmaker. The Five Inch Bather is the first of his many War-time public information films. He approached the task of promoting water conservation as if he was making a home-movie. He stars; it was shot by friends; the sound is crudely added. The result has a simplicity and directness that has been compared to Keaton and Chaplin. 


Richard Massingham was born in 1898. He studied medicine and worked as Senior Medical Officer at the London Fever Hospital, where he shot his early self-funded films. From these he developed a successful second career as maker of public information and advertising films, scripting, directing and playing in many, and continuing to employ home, family and friends wherever possible. After prolific War years, commissions were beginning to dry up at the time of his death in 1953. In an obituary, Basil Wright wrote ‘Cinema should treasure its all too rare individual artists’. 

Bruce Lacey and Jill Bruce How to Have a Bath 1971

7 minutes. Collection: Artist 

Bruce Lacey is both a performance artist and robot-maker. This film was directly inspired by the previous one, Richard Massingham’s The Five Inch Bather, and elaborates upon its theme. How to Have a Bath is one of a series of films he has described as ‘documents of human behaviour (for the benefit of Martians)’. The film is silent. 


Bruce Lacey was born in 1927. He studied at Hornsey College of Art and Royal College of Art, London, after War service in the Navy. He made props for TV and theatre, including for Spike Milligan and Michael Bentine, and exhibited robots in Cybernetic Serendipity ICA 1968 and other exhibitions. Many of his films either record performances, or were made for use in performances. Jill Bruce was born in 1942, studied at Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and was a costume maker and performer. 

Helen Chadwick Domestic Sanitation, Latex Glamour Rodeo about 1976

10 minutes. Collection: Lux; PADT 

Domestic Sanitation, Latex Glamour Rodeo is in part the record of a performance by Helen Chadwick. Chadwick mocks the glamour industry while at the same time showing women enjoying making and putting-on prosthetic skin and fantasy costumes. ‘At her most lascivious and merry with the flesh - [Chadwick] teases out serious matters with surgical precision and clarity’. Marjorie Allthorpe-Guyton 1996 


Helen Chadwick was born in 1953. She studied at Brighton Polytechnic and Chelsea School of Art, London. She worked in performance, photography, installation, sculpture, and transient media, the body and domestic materials being frequently at the centre of her art. Her own films were either developed from, or records of, her performances. She also performed in films by other artists including Ian Bourn and Jock McFadyen. She died in 1996.