"Gorilla’s mum," 2011
'Gorilla’s mum,' 2011 (Photo: Hitotsuyama Studio)

In the hands of this artist, piles of old newspapers gain new life as a moving, one-of-a-kind wildlife sculptures.

The mastermind behind this evocative wildlife sculpture series is artist Chie Hitotsuyama, who works in tandem with creative director Tomiji Tamai. Together, they make up Hitotsuyama Studio, creating sculptures that tell a story about the relationship between humans and the creatures with whom we share the planet.

To create her sculptures, Hitotsuyama brushes newspaper strips with glue and then twists them one by one into strong cord-like rolls. She then takes these rolls and arranges them into contours and curves that eventually form into the shapes of various animals, like the one above. You can get a feel of her almost meditative process in the short documentary clip below:

https://vimeo.com/183929956

Born and raised in Fuji city — once the paper manufacturing capital of Japan — Hitotsuyama's attraction to paper-based art was ingrained into her as a child. The warehouse studio where she works today is actually the same building where her family once operated a paper manufacturing plant.

"I used to go to the site of my grandfather's paper factory and enjoyed seeing employees operating the machines, smelling the scent of paper, hearing the machines making paper twine, and being buried under paper scraps," Hitotsuyama explains. "During their break time, I also enjoying seeing workers make small things from leftover paper twine."

The idea for this gorgeous series began in 2007 with a trip to Zambia. After coming across an injured rhino that had been brutally attacked by poachers for its horn, Hitotsuyama was inspired to create a piece of art that would shed light on the plight of these endangered animals. The result of this experience is Hitotsuyama's first ever rolled newspaper sculpture, "Cries and songs from your heart are still heard today" (below).

"Cries and Songs from your heart are still heard today," 2011
'Cries and Songs from your heart are still heard today,' 2011 (Photo: Hitotsuyama Studio)

"After that, I became strongly aware of what life is all about, what it means to live," Hitotsuyama tells Kokusei Pulp & Paper. "Animals that live in nature are equal to us in the sense that we live together on this planet. Sometimes they sleep. Sometimes they eat. They are living ordinary everyday lives just like us. I would like keep insisting on reality and producing my life-sized work as much as possible in order to convey their lives."

Since that first sculpture, Hitotsuyama has gone on to create numerous other rolled newspaper masterpieces featuring some of the planet's most captivating wild animals.

"Live on earth: bison," 2012, installation view at MOAH:Cedar 2016.
'Live on earth: bison,' 2012, installation view at MOAH:Cedar 2016. (Photo: Hitotsuyama Studio)

Captivated by Hitotsuyama's exquisite rolled newspaper art? Check out all of her work on her website or give her a follow on Facebook.

"Tears of Walrus," 2012, installation view at MOAH:Cedar 2016.
'Tears of Walrus,' 2012, installation view at MOAH:Cedar 2016. (Photo: Hitotsuyama Studio)

Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.