Bringing Paper To Life: A Tax Officer With A Passion For Origami

This tax officer with a passion for origami unlocks the unlimited potential of a humble piece of paper.

With his undercut hair in a bun and a spiked silver ring in his left ear, Bartholomew Yeo does not look like a typical public officer.

His desk at the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore is no ordinary paper-stacked cubicle either. Blue owls, orange doves and a family of cats – all folded from paper – peer down at him as he answers phone enquiries about tax issues. Little paper puppies play in a mini garden to his left while to his right, a 45cm-tall horse stands proud.

The self-taught paper-folding enthusiast, also known as Bart, had dabbled in origami since childhood, but only started pursuing it as a hobby two years ago. These days, he makes almost 25 colourful pieces a day, folding one or two new models repeatedly.

“[There are] unlimited possibilit[ies] with just one square sheet of paper… That alone never ceases to amaze me,” says the 24-year-old. Other than miniature decorations, Bart also uses origami to create accessories. Last Halloween, he transformed himself into the Hamburglar, the McDonald’s character, wearing a life-sized hat, eye mask and tie – all folded out of paper.

He keeps a lookout for different types of paper to experiment with too. On a recent trip to South Korea, he set aside half a day to search for local handmade paper.

Bart’s hobby and job have helped him develop two essential skills, he says. Keeping his cool while appeasing frustrated taxpayers hones his patience, just as folding up to 200 steps to make a complete model does. Similarly, paying meticulous attention to detail is crucial when handling both intricate origami steps and taxpayers’ particulars.

Origami has helped the cheerful officer befriend more colleagues, who are drawn to the quirky paper figures spread artfully over his desk.

“To most people, origami is just something for kids,” says Bart. “[But] when they saw that it could be done in so many different ways, they were amazed that there’s more to origami than they had thought.”

Follow Bart on Instagram (@bartfartsart) for more of his colourful creations.

    Mar 18, 2015
    Tay Qiao Wei
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