On Friday, 4 February, Rankin and WaterAid will launch a pop-up exhibition at Southbank’s Oxo Gallery, highlighting the “sanitation crisis around the world”. Titled Best Seat in the House, the exhibition will feature works by 25 artists, designers and public figures – including Martin Parr, Boy George, Dame Zandra Rhodes, Daisy Collingridge, Chila Kumari Burman, and Harry Hill – who have all designed and “elevated” toilet seats, to “celebrate them for the lifesavers they are”, while “highlighting how toilets are a luxury denied to 1.7 billion people.”
Among the artworks is a fleshy, soft-fabric loo covering from textile designer Daisy Collingridge, a seat displaying a public-urinal portrait by Martin Parr, a seat from Ozwald Boateng using traditional Ghanaian cloth, and a glossy, black latex toilet from Laila Majid. Other contributing artists include: Bambi, Carrie Reichard, Charlotte Colbert, Pam Hogg, George Morton-Clark, Gina Soden, Haseebah Ali, Hayden Kays, Jessica Albarn, Joe Sweeney, Liaqat Rasul, Nettie Wakefield, Pure Evil, Roo Dhissou, Seema Mattu, Soozy Lipsey and Val Garland. The works are on display at Oxo Gallery until Sunday 6 February; admittance to the exhibition is free.
“It’s easy for us to take toilets for granted; we just assume everyone has one,” says photographer and director Rankin. “But one in five people don’t have this basic human right – that’s an extraordinary figure.” By displaying the toilet seats as museum pieces, Rankin agency and WaterAid aim to illustrate their inaccessibility and how the issue compromises the safety, hygiene and education of people, particularly girls and women.
Rankin continues: “Toilets can make us feel a little uncomfortable. Using the toilet seat as a canvas is an accessible and engaging way to put the spotlight on toilets and get people talking about them.”
Best Seat in the House is part of WaterAid’s Thirst for Knowledge appeal to help prevent the spread of deadly diseases by providing toilets and clean water to communities worldwide.
Martin Parr: Best Seat in the House (Copyright © Rankin/WaterAid, 2021)
About the Author
Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, she worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.