Tube Art: Tiny, Magical Worlds Inside Toilet Paper Rolls


We rarely give much thought to the humble toilet paper roll – and why should we? It’s just a piece of cardboard, destined for the recycling bin, a carrier for a necessary but unremarkable household supply. But perhaps it’s the very banality of this material that gives Anastassia Elias’ tiny, delicate sculptures such surprising vitality.


Elias, primarily a painter and illustrator, carves tiny scenes out of the inside of each brown paper roll, leaving the outside intact. The layering of each individual element gives each scene texture and depth that is revealed by the light that shines through, highlighting some figures and leaving others in shadow.


The artist photographs the tubes being slowly turned toward the camera at an angle, so that just one tiny part of the sculpture is revealed at a time. The subjects are engaged in everyday activities like relaxing at home, listening to a lecture or passing through a street market – perhaps a deliberate reference to the domestic nature of the artist’s chosen medium.