Fuel cell bike artist wins Turner Prize

Simon Starling was last night awarded the prestigious Turner Prize, pocketing £25 000. Previous winners of the British art prize have included Damien Hirst and Gilbert & George. One of Starling's works is Tabernas Desert Run 2004, an improvised electric/fuel cell bicycle. The fuel cell and electrics were supplied by Glasgow bike shop Kinetics and the secondhand Raleigh bike was supplied for £75 from Common Wheel, also of Glasgow.
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Starling crossed the Tabernas desert in Spain on his electric bicycle. He collected the water emitted by the motor and used it to paint an illustration of a cactus.

"The contrast between the supremely efficient cactus and the contrived efforts of man is both comic and insightful, highlighting the commercial exploitation of natural resources in the region," said a statement from Tate Britain art gallery.

Recumbent and electric bike specialist Ben Cooper of Kinetics, Glasgow, provided the motor, controller and battery, and got it all working together on a 25 inch Raleigh Winner bicycle supplied by Common Wheel.

"The fuel cell can put out over 1kw, but it takes a few seconds to fire up, so it can't respond instantly to the throttle. Instead, it's used to recharge a NiMH battery, which then drives the motor," said Cooper.

"That way you get instant acceleration, and the fuel cell can run more efficiently. Kind of like a hybrid car."

Starling was shortlisted for his exhibitions at The Modern Institute, Glasgow and the Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona.

His other displayed works included a shed which he made into a boat, took on the water, and then made it back into a shed.




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