Coronavirus: 'Bonkers' response to toilet roll art challenge

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Owl by Isobel Finnie/Hare by KateMcBrideImage source, Isobel Finnie/KateMcBride
Image caption,
Isobel Finnie painted this owl, complete with ears - while Kate McBride embellished a toilet roll tube with sweet wrappers and magazine clippings

A gallery owner who challenged people to create art out of toilet roll tubes during the coronavirus lockdown said the response has been "bonkers".

Sarah Whittley, from Cley next the Sea in Norfolk, launched the project on social media, with scores of people taking part from as far away as the US.

She had been looking for easy things to make when she spotted the loo rolls.

The challenge had "touched people", and led to the production of some "heart-warming" creations, she said.

Image source, Olga Alam
Image caption,
Maria Alam, 12, created two acrylic paintings for the challenge, including this one
Image source, Emma Denham
Image caption,
India Denham, 15, came up with the idea of turning a toilet roll tube into a baked beans can

Ms Whittley, who has run Pinkfoot Gallery for 15 years and lives on site, said underlying health issues meant she had to close the business ahead of the lockdown.

"I set the challenge because I'm a 'doer' and being told I can't leave the house is so frustrating," she said.

"If you haven't got paper you can use cardboard... I thought I could make it as accessible as possible with things you can find around the house like a Biro and loo roll.

"Everyone has something to express, especially with emotions at such a peak."

Image source, Sophie Rousso
Image caption,
Gallery owner Sarah Whittley (left) and her colleague Emma Denham (right) have compiled photos of the pieces on social media
Image source, Chloe Breen
Image caption,
Chloe Breen scrunched up this toilet roll tube to make it look like a man's face

Ms Whittley said she and her colleague Emma Denham had spent hours replying to everyone who had posted photos for the #pinkfootloorollchallenge across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

"We didn't expect it to go quite so bonkers," said Ms Whittley, before adding they had been surprised by the variety of designs, ranging from a crumpled tube "face" to a 3D wildlife scene and intricate bird paintings.

Professional artists have taken up the challenge alongside those wanting to pass the time, with Ms Whittley saying her "not normally arty" mother contributed an entry because she thought "I'd be upset if no-one responded".

The challenge will run for the duration of the lockdown, with Ms Whittley hoping to put on an exhibition to thank contributors when her gallery reopened.

Image source, Sarah Whittley
Image caption,
Sarah Whittley's Biro drawing based on Edvard Munch's The Scream launched the challenge in March

"I think every single one is incredible - I didn't expect the standard to be that high and inventive," she said.

"When people are at school everyone paints and draws, then as they get older life takes over, but people love painting and everyone has words to express, pictures to paint.

"They haven't always had the time but now they have.

"It's almost a social record... if we can get everyone creating, we'd love that."

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