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Product Details

Hand made paper sculpture, one off piece by Anandamayi Arnold.

Size: 37 x 17 cm

MATERIALS: Paper, ink, wire, novelty toys; 2020



Just like the trompe l'oeil painters of the 17th Century, there are several layers of illusions at play in the work of Anandamayi Arnold. Firstly what seem to be lifelike speciments of plants, flowers and vegetables are in fact exquisitely made replica, crafted from antique and vintage crepe paper. Secondly the objects themselves are not quite what they seem as they contain a surprise, the only catch is that to uncover the surprise the piece must be ‘unmade’, a tension that fascinates.

(As featured in the June 2011 issue of The World of Interiors  Read it here: link to:

American artist Anandamayi Arnold originally found inspiration for these works from a popular mid-century party game. A bit like the English game of ‘pass the parcel’ in which little gifts are wrapped within each layer, ‘surprise balls' made of crepe paper were a popular party object in mid-century America, often taking the form of snow balls or oranges in which little gifts were hidden within layers and layers of paper.

The earliest evidence of the ‘surprise ball’ was found in Native American culture. Traditionally, it was a common practice to tell the history of one's life with a unique ball of twigs, grass, string. The first layer represented birth and then for significant events in life, another layer & memento were added.

The thought of unravelling these objects of beauty is unthinkable. The temptation to reveal what’s inside will probably never overtake the desire to keep these intact, remaining like hidden messages behind old walls.

We are excited to be able to launch this collection of one off pieces, as Anandamayi usually only sells her work through one gallery in her hometown. Appearing like something from a Dutch still life, this collection includes a pomegranate, an exquisite wood anemone, tulips, narcissi, an extraordinarily realistic gem lettuce, radish and a sprouting onion to name a few!

‘She is an extremely unusual person’ says her friend and one-time employer Alice Erb. ‘She looks like a pre Pre-Raphaelite princess, or a young Frida Kahlo. Her father is a Sanskrit scholar and she was brought up in India until she was six. She graduated in ancient studies from Brown University; and when not making surprise balls, she might be panning for gold in the Sierras, or helping to make a new film in Mendocino, or joining her friends the circus performers in Toronto’ (expert for WOI June 2001).