I would venture to guess that in any home that doesn’t include preschoolers programmed to save such goodies for craft projects, toilet paper rolls are not generally looked upon as a serious art medium, but here are two artists who think otherwise.
French paper artist Junior Fritz Jacquet, born in Haiti in 1979, discovered origami in a Parisian library when he was 15. He is probably most famous for the many miniature masks he has made by squishing and folding a single toilet paper roll into an expressive face. He then shellacs each one and often adds pigments to them. Because he is French, he is less well-known in the U.S., and none of the interviews I found of him were translated. However, in an article about him I read years ago (the link to it is no longer functioning) he said about the masks, “I first concentrate on the construction of the eyes, then the nose, then the mouth, and then the entire expression. I am trying to create funny and jovial expressions and will keep working on my technique because there is no limit to experimentation.” Since then, he has gone on to create fascinating functional paper lights and other creations which can be found on his website.
And if you’d like to try this at home, here is a video of Wonko Thesane trying to imitate his style.
Anastassia Elias is another artist living in France who creates art from toilet paper rolls, but rather than folding them from the outside, she uses scissors and a tweezers to create whimsical paper scenes on the inside, which she then lights from behind for maximum effect. She has in fact, created a whole book of the images called Rouleaux, which features 67 paper sculptures that were made between 2009 and 2012, and a total of 157 photographs and 28 sketches. While I haven’t found a purchasing link to it, you can see many of the images by clicking on “View Slide Show” at this link.
Like Mr. Jacquet, her artistic endeavors go far beyond toilet paper roll art, but she has used that particular medium to help a charity trying to bring better sanitation to poor communities. In 2016, she created a special series of artwork for WaterAid to mark World Toilet Day, noting that 2.3 billion people – one in three of the world’s population – do not have access to a safe, private toilet.
Her specially designed artwork for this project included iconic images from 10 cities from both developing and developed countries, highlighting the fact that healthy cities are built on good sanitation. The cities she depicted are: Agra, Bogota, Dhaka, London, New York, Stockholm, Sydney, Timbuktu, Tokyo and Toronto. (Photo Credit: WaterAid/ Thierry Bal)
In an article about the project, she said, “I have always enjoyed experimenting with materials that people might otherwise throw away, which is why I started working with toilet rolls; recreating scenes from my surroundings that have inspired me. People sometimes find it surprising that I make art out of such an ordinary, everyday household item but I think their size and my use of perspective helps to draw people into another world.”
You can read another interview and see more of her work here.
What do you think?
- Do like the art shown here?
- Do you prefer one artist’s work over the other’s?
- Have you ever thought of making art from toilet paper rolls? Will you now?
- What is the most unusual medium you have seen art made from?