Thanet healthcare assistant creates space-themed miniature world with plan for ‘blast off’

Ryan Harris is showcasing his tiny space creatures at York Street Gallery

By Liz Baker

A Thanet healthcare assistant has created a space-themed miniature world from unwanted items – and hopes to send one of the characters into the atmosphere.

Ryan Harris, who works on the day surgery unit at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate, was inspired to create the miniature models, called Spacekins, from litter he finds on the beach near his home in Palm Bay.

They will feature in an exhibition in Ramsgate next week, and he is also raising money to blast one into space to raise awareness of the issue of litter and coastal pollution.

Ryan, 47, said: “It would be fantastic if we could send a Spacekin into space. I think the image of a tiny Spacekin, floating high over the Earth, looking down at the beautiful environments that we are polluting with our rubbish, would be really powerful.

“There is a company that can take a Spacekin to the edges of the atmosphere and take that photo, before bringing the model safely back to Earth.

“I’d then like to sell the model for charity, and perhaps some prints of the photo as well.”

The first Spacekin was created during lockdown, when Ryan revisited his passion for graphic design and illustration, which he had studied at art college.

Drawing a ring pull, he spotted its similarity to a space suit, and the characters grew from there. He creates the models from locally collected beach litter, household recycling and other items, then photographs them and displays them as framed pieces.

Ryan, who has worked at QEQM for 20 years, said: “I have crates full of bits and pieces that I have collected, all thoroughly cleaned and ready to be put to new use.

“Sometimes I know instantly what an object will become, if it reminds me of a spacecraft, or a robot, or some other weird cosmic machine.

“But that doesn’t always happen and I do have a lot of things I am keeping because they will be useful in the future!

“Then I end up trawling through the boxes for parts that will fit in with the vision I have sketched.

“I never quite know how the final model will turn out and that is one of the best bits, to see it evolve almost independently based on the materials I have available.”

Each character has a purpose and back story and Ryan is now working on a book, and there could also be ‘Top Trumps’ style card games, a computer game and animation in the future.

The Spacekins live in The Asteroid Belt, inspired by the coastline where much of the litter is collected – a transitory world of drifting space rocks, with a regular tide of strange and mysterious debris. The Dirty Gherkins are giant vessels that regularly pass through The Belt, dumping huge amounts of rubbish. There are also The Tea Time Tribe; a sinister, confection-obsessed band of former Spacekins, now adrift on a rogue cluster of asteroids, who bring sugar-coated terror to the Spacekin realm.

Ryan has previously taken part in four group exhibitions, and one solo one, and you can see the latest exhibition at York Street Gallery in Ramsgate, from Wednesday, 8 November to Wednesday, 15 November.

For more information about the Spacekins, visit https://www.spacekins.co.uk/ and to donate to the crowdfunding appeal to send one to space visit http://gofundme.com/f/send-a-spacekin-into-space

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