In the early sixties Hamilton was struck by a new advertising campaign for Andrex toilet paper that featured photographs of girls posed in a forest glade. He described the scene: 'Nature is beautiful. Pink from a morning sun filters through a tissue of autumn leaves. Golden shafts gleam through the the perforated vaulting of the forest to illuminate a stage set-up for the Sunday supplement voyeur.' It is a masturbatory fantasy: 'the woodland equipped with every convenience. A veil of soft-focus vegetation screens the peeper from the sentinel. Poussin? Claude? No, more like Watteau in its magical ambiguity.' In Soft pink landscape (1971-2) he reproduces this scene in misty paint, as if seen through half-closed eyes, with a roll of Andrex placed on the ground.
In 1975 Hamilton exhibited Andrex-inspired work at the Serpentine Gallery along with other landscape views derived from postcards. Some of these show Miers, the French spa noted for the laxative properties of its waters. There were also nine pastel images of sunsets, each with a giant turd in the foreground. One further view was of sunrise over Cadaqués with a turd blotting out its church, and Hamilton linked this with Jung's account of a dream he had: 'the cathedral, the blue sky, God sits on his throne, high above the world - and an enormous turd falls upon the sparkling new roof, shatters it, and breaks the walls of the cathedral asunder.' Hamilton's interest in the Andrex adverts continued and in 1980 he completed Soft blue landscape (the cover of the Tate's 1992 exhibition catalogue, below, shows a detail from this painting, omitting the toilet roll). It was at this point that Hamilton discovered the rather surprising identity of an artist who had actually worked on the original 1960s Andrex campaign... Bridget Riley.