As longtime readers will know, newspapers aren't just for reading -- they can be worn as jewelry, laid on walls as wallpaper, used for building furniture and whole buildings (some of them even lasting as long as a century).
Of course, old newspapers can be made into new art, as Japanese artist Chie Hitotsuyama does with her stunningly realistic, life-sized sculptures of wildlife, created entirely with rolled up pieces of recycled newspaper. Watch:
Besides the advantage of upcycling humble newsprint into something remarkable, Hitotsuyama's choice of using newspapers is deliberate and metaphoric:
Newspapers are interesting because they, too, carry a repetition of cycles. The cycle of birth and death, whilst carrying our memories. This, I felt, is so similar to human beings’ lives who also repeat their own histories and experience in the cycles of life and death.
Using her own meticulous technique of cutting sheets into long strips, wetting them and then rolling them up, Hitotsuyama then gradually builds her works up on top of a base form, gluing each single 'string' side by side, often using the existing colours of the newsprint to add tones to her forms. As she notes: "A piece of paper on its own is too delicate to stand on its own, but an accumulation of these thin papers or strings, enables me to realize uncountable varieties of objects."
But it's not as simple as capturing the form, but the 'is-ness' of each animal just so, which is not an easy feat, explains Hitotsuyama:
Every time we make a new work of an animal, we need to face the challenge of learning and discovering their traits, personalities and nature of how they would view and interact with the world they are living in. There are a lot of information on the internet now, but the very thing we want can’t be found. For example, there is no blog by an animal who can tell us how they feel about certain things. So, in a way, making the sculptures of animals that are not deceiving either to them and us, humans are very important. And this can be a challenge.
For Hitotsuyama, her artistic practice is also a connection to her family heritage, as her studio is based out of her grandfather’s old paper-braiding factory. It's an intriguing convergence that expresses what is possible when one merges family tradition with newspaper story cycles, and with a greater message about the meaningful relationships we can have with our wild brothers and sisters, and the greater transformative cycles of nature. To see more, visit Chie Hitotsuyama.