Hastings art student builds human hamster wheel

An art student from Hastings has designed a life-size human hamster wheel for her final year project.

Ellie Cooke, 22, studied at the Chelsea College of Art, part of the University of the Arts London and earned a first for her creation. The wheel was made entirely in her Hastings back garden with the help of her family, in particular her father who restores furniture in Rye.

Ellie Cooke and her human hamster wheel

Ellie Cooke and her human hamster wheel

This meant she had to do countless trips commuting to the capital to showcase her work but she said it was worth it because she loves her home town.

“I really wanted to build it in Hastings and for Hastings because things are happening here and I want to support it,” she said.

“Everyone thinks you have to go to London to be a part of the art scene but you don’t, especially with the Jerwood Gallery coming down here.

“Sometimes we can be a bit stuck in our old ways but people should just go for it if they want to get into art.

Human hamster wheel being built by Ellie Cooke

Human hamster wheel being built by Ellie Cooke

“It’s much more exciting down here than in London.”

The budding artist hopes to one day work at the Jerwood and the recent interactive exhibition at the Hastings art gallery ties in well with her piece.

“It is meant to be a fun thing to be used and walked on,” she said.

“I know a few people in the Old Town are interested in the wheel so hopefully it will soon be on the open space around the gallery on the Stade for people to try out.”

Ellie Cooke testing her human hamster wheel

Ellie Cooke testing her human hamster wheel

Miss Cooke’s design was partly inspired by having a twin sister as the wheel takes two people to experience the full effect, one doing the running and the other reading the text on the outside.

“When you have a concept and it comes off, it’s an amazing feeling,” she said.

The sculpture was also influenced by a wheel Miss Cooke saw in Egerton Park in Bexhill.

The text says ‘so am we as you are I,’ when it spins in one direction and ‘you push the wheel away towards me,’ the other way, as an oxymoron and can be read whatever way the wheel turns.

The finished human hamster wheel

The finished human hamster wheel

Miss Cooke said the concept behind the wheel is transportation and she found it interesting to see the difference in movement as the person running is obviously moving but the wheel does not go anywhere.

For now, the wheel is dismantled and in storage while Miss Cooke finds a buyer because it is too big to be kept anywhere safely and as a whole.

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Ellie Cooke and her finished human hamster wheel

Ellie Cooke and her finished human hamster wheel

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Ellie Cooke trying out her finished human hamster wheel

Ellie Cooke trying out her finished human hamster wheel