A host of artists, fashion designers and celebrities have created their own unique toilet seats as part of a project with WaterAid and the Rankin Agency to help elevate the status of the humble loo and celebrate them for the lifesavers they are.
Harry Hill, Pam Hogg, Val Garland, Ozwald Boateng, Martin Parr, Boy George, Dame Zandra Rhodes, Pure Evil and Hayden Kays are among 25 artists who have given the ‘Best Seat in the House’ a special splash of luxury, highlighting how toilets are a luxury denied to 1.7 billion people.
The collection, which includes a golden throne, punk art, seats decorated in beautiful fabric, and a lucky toilet seat, has been photographed in a set of stylish shots by the Rankin Agency to help lift the lid on the sanitation crisis this World Toilet Day (19 November).
One in five people globally have no decent toilet at home, compromising their safety, dignity, and health, with 800 children dying every day from diarrhoeal diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation. A third of schools lack these vital facilities, so millions of girls stay at home during their period, holding them back from fulfilling their potential.
Photographer and Director Rankin said:
“It’s easy for us to take toilets for granted; we just assume everyone has one. But one in five people don’t have this basic human right – that’s an extraordinary figure. When travelling with work, I’ve seen first-hand how difficult it is for people to live without a toilet, and the impact it has on their health, education, dignity and safety.
“The toilet really is the ‘Best Seat in the House’, and that’s what we want to show through this campaign. 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. The designs are fun, but carry an important message – that everyone everywhere needs a decent toilet. And by supporting WaterAid, we can help get toilets into schools around the world so children can build a better future.”
As part of WaterAid’s Thirst for Knowledge appeal this winter, the international charity is helping get toilets and clean water to communities in Nepal and many more around the world, helping prevent the spread of deadly diseases, improve education, and transform lives. The UK government will match public donations made between 16 November 2021 and 15 February 2022 up to £2 million, making double the difference in schools and communities in Nepal, enabling girls to thrive.
Val Garland, London-based make-up artist, author of Validated, and judge on BBC TV series ‘Glow Up’, decorated her seat with glamourous red silk and hot lips. She said:
“The idea I want to highlight is that the humble toilet seat, our reality, which we take for granted, for some is unfortunately an unobtainable luxury, a rarefied object. The modest everyday object is transformed into a high art sculpture symbolizing the impossible dream that we must make into reality.”
Fashion and textile designer Dame Zandra Rhodes created a beautifully embroidered seat. She said:
“A working toilet should be a basic human right for everyone, but almost two billion people around the world don’t have access to something so important. I have turned a conventional item into a piece of art. One of my archive prints ‘Chinese Water Circles’ can be seen printed onto silk organza and draped over the seat to emulate water. It has created perfect waves and golden swirls, to highlight that a toilet and access to water is, unfortunately, in some countries, still a luxury.”
Comedian and TV presenter Harry Hill called his the lucky toilet seat, listing things this special seat can protect you from, including ghosts and junk mail. He said:
“Ah the great British tradition of toilet humour! But toilets, I have discovered, thanks to this collaboration with WaterAid, are a serious business. One in five people around the world does not have a decent toilet at home, which puts their health and safety at risk.
“That’s where the idea of toilets being lucky items came from, which inspired my toilet seat design. Plus the seat kind of reminded me of a horse shoe. They may not quite be able to ward off devils, ghosts and junk-mail, as I suggest in my design, but if they can protect people from disease and keep kids in school, then they are the ‘Best Seat in the House in my book’.”
Fashion designer Ozwald Boateng designed a seat using Ghanaian fabric. He said:
“Being part of something that fuses creativity and philanthropy, while advocating for the African continent through its work, is always humbling. The design of the seat was inspired by my ancestry and my creative foundation, returning to the core of traditional Ghanaian cloth, print and colour. The colours within the fabric express a potent message of mother earth, healing, grounding rebirth, growth and light.”
Inside the seat made by singer and DJ Boy George are the words ‘Piss and Love’. He said:
“I feel my art, my inspiration and my reason for doing anything is always about emotion. Even if I’m doing something for a charity, there has to be an element of humour and optimism in the work.
“My toilet seat is a punk throne of defiance. The bladder is in some quarters considered the fountain of truth. Spiritual types will tell you that if you have issues with your bladder, you’re not speaking the truth. I love this concept. A lot of serious thinking can be done on the throne.”
Fashion designer and musician Pam Hogg created a fabulous golden throne. She said:
“Millions of people do not have the luxury of sitting on their own toilet in their own home. This affects women and girls disproportionately. Toilets help keep girls safe and in school, and also helps prevent the spread of diseases. They shouldn’t be a luxury reserved for some, but an essential for all.
“I named mine “The Throne ” and created a fantasy gold draped and frilled one with recycled leftover fabrics from previous collections. I added gold bows to represent the gift, to inspire much needed donations to this essential cause. ”
Other artists who have contributed to the ‘Best Seat in the House’ campaign are Bambi, Carrie Reichardt, Charlotte Colbert, Chila Burman, Daisy Collingridge, George Morton-Clark, Gina Soden, Haseebah Ali, Jessica Albarn, Joe Sweeney, Laila Majid, Liaqat Rasul, Nettie Wakefield, Roo Dhissou, Seema Mattu and Soozy Lipsey.
Tim Wainwright, Chief Executive at WaterAid said:
“A lack of toilets traps whole communities in poverty, affecting people’s health, safety and dignity. When there are no toilets in schools, girls often skip class during their period or drop out altogether when they reach puberty, holding them back from fulfilling their potential.
“To mark World Toilet Day, we are sharing the message that toilets save lives, and are raising money to help get clean water and toilets to schools and communities around the world. These vital facilities can help quench every girl’s thirst for learning so they can build a better future. We are also delighted that the UK Government is matching public donations this winter, helping make double the difference.”
To view the ‘Best Seat in the House’ collection and donate, visit www.wateraid.org/uk/toilet-art.