Framed :: Rachel Park
November 13th 2013
Who would have thought that a jumbo roll of ultra soft toilet paper could be so beautiful?
Rachel Park, that’s who. This emerging artist knows how to transform pretty ordinary objects into beautiful and mesmerising works of art. She’s been doing it for a while and doing it well, earning her a role at SAFARI Festival this year. In her latest collection, Together, she does exactly this with toilet paper, draping layers of the stuff that in a gallery and running fans through it to make it something beautiful. Like this:
Why toilet paper art? “So I can make something more valuable out of it,” she says, and to feed her “compassion” for lowly-regarded, cheap stuff.
Rachel spoke to The Flog about how she makes jumbo toilet paper so pretty…
1) What is it about toilet paper as a medium that grabs you so much?
Unlike dealing with metal and stone, the jumbo roll toilet paper I use in my art practice, which is recycled 1 ply non-perforated, is very responsive to its environment. It responds to wind, light and humidity. It’s light and long. Some are up to 650m long. It’s usually quietly hiding inside the plastic casing in the public toilet, but I had to tell the whole world it is very beautiful!
2) It sounds like creating art in this way and using this material is a very personal process for you. What is it like sharing your work with others?
I really like the fact that people are already familiar with the material, jumbo roll toilet paper. They know the size, texture and its length. Regardless of age, nationality, race and education, cultural, socio-economical backgrounds, the majority of people know what this material is and what it is used for. So with little or no knowledge about contemporary art, they can still appreciate my art practice. They see toilet paper turning into art!
3) Do you see your work as somewhat autobiographical since it’s so personal?
Yes, people write their autobiography with words but I chose to write mine visually.
4) Some of your work is inspired by nature with a waterfall in particular being an inspiration. What other elements of nature are you fascinated by and would try to emulate in your work?
I’m intrigued by the gentleness of nature. How it embraces you and soothes you. It doesn’t scream for your attention. It doesn’t demand your attention, especially the gentle gestures. But I find it hard to emulate these movements with artificial means such as fans and motors.
5) How do you use movement with your work?
Movement is one of the signs of a living thing. I have found that by adding movement to my artwork it becomes a different piece.
6) What sorts of creations are in your exhibition at Archive Space?
I have an installation artwork in the space. It is consisted of 8 individual pieces. Each piece is displayed with support of a free standing stand. Jumbo roll toilet paper is soaked in calligraphy ink and various patterns created through that process are shown in the artwork. Come and see!
7) What other types of underestimated materials might you use in the future?
I’ve been working on disposable wooden chopsticks on and off since 2010 so we will see…
‘Framed’ is the Flog’s new fortnightly matchmaker, introducing you to potential new art loves like eHarmony on crack. If you’re an emerging artist or know a talented trevor that needs a leg up, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We might just frame you.