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Notes on a Series of Bathroom Tiles Popular c.50 years ago

by Alex Dally MacFarlane

First tile.
A four-pointed star: the city of Ramne, simplified for the sake of ceramic representation.

Second tile.
A willow with six thick branches that keep pale cats on one side and dark cats on another; the latter cats are in a smaller space. The artist's choice of cats to represent the people of Ramne can likely be traced to her childhood at her mother's cattery, where the animals were kept in willow-wood pens, and perhaps also to the enduring popularity of cats with the people of Ramne.

Third tile.
A cat neither dark nor pale curled at the willow's base. Knowledge of Adne's actions makes the meaning of this tile clear: the cat is dead, self-poisoned, and its proximity to the tree means it too will die, just as Madar did from Adne's touch. A deceptively peaceful tile, but these are for popular consumption.

Four tile.
A triad of drooping willows, and in each corner of the tile is the Ramne-star. The stars' positioning signify that the drooping willows occur with Ramne. In truth it took longer for Adne's rebellion to have the small effect it had. The artist's need to hide meaning in trees and cats, almost a century later, indicates this.

Though it is sad to see Adne's sacrifice rendered as bathroom tiles, its presence during a daily cleansing ritual makes up for this somewhat.

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