Pop-up London show curated by top photographer Rankin to highlight sanitation crisis

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(Image credit: © RANKIN/WaterAid)

Celebrated portrait photographer Rankin has joined forces with other leading creatives to highlight how toilets are denied to 1.7 billion people around the world. 

The ‘Best Seat in the House’, a project developed by the Rankin Agency in partnership with WaterAid for World Toilet Day 2021, will see a collection of unique toilet seats go on show in London on 4-6 February. 

The artworks will be displayed as museum pieces to highlight the inaccessibility of toilets to millions around the world, and include a golden throne, seats decorated in beautiful fabric, punk art and a lucky toilet seat.

They have been produced by 25 prominent artists including Martin Parr, Pam Hogg, Ozwald Boateng, Harry Hill, Dame Zandra Rhodes, Boy George – and many more. 

• Find out more – watch the ‘Best Seat in the House’ film

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Photographer Martin Parr’s design for ‘Best Seat in the House’ (Image credit: © RANKIN/WaterAid)

WaterAid is an international not-for-profit organisation that works in 28 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people. 

It works to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation. 

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.

Artist Joe Sweeney’s design for ‘Best Seat in the House’ (Image credit: © RANKIN/WaterAid)

“It’s easy for us to take toilets for granted; we just assume everyone has one,” says Rankin. 

“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.”

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Photographer Rankin has partnered with WaterAid for its ‘Best Seat in the House’ project for World Toilet Day 2021 (Image credit: © Rankin)

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 by 15 February 2022 up to £2 million, making double the difference in schools and communities in Nepal, enabling girls to thrive. 

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Comedian Harry Hill’s design for ‘Best Seat in the House’ (Image credit: © RANKIN/WaterAid)

See the artworks and make a donation

Click here to view the ‘Best Seat in the House’ collection and make a donation. 

To see the toilet seats in person, visit the free exhibition at the Oxo Gallery on London’s Southbank from Friday 4 to Sunday 6 February. 

Visit the WaterAid website to discover more about the organisation, follow @WaterAidUK or @WaterAidPress on Twitter, or find WaterAid UK on Facebook

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Niall Hampton

Niall is the editor of Digital Camera Magazine, and has been shooting on interchangeable lens cameras for over 20 years, and on various point-and-shoot models for years before that. 

Working alongside professional photographers for many years as a jobbing journalist gave Niall the curiosity to also start working on the other side of the lens. These days his favored shooting subjects include wildlife, travel and street photography, and he also enjoys dabbling with studio still life. 

On the site you will see him writing photographer profiles, asking questions for Q&As and interviews, reporting on the latest and most noteworthy photography competitions, and sharing his knowledge on website building.