Hamming it up

Art & Culture | Crystal Wu 9 Apr 2021

Traveling may have stopped around the world - but not in hamsterland.

Life of Hamster Sukeroku at Gallery by the Harbour is Japanese illustrator Gotte's first overseas original painting exhibition.

"I usually publish my work online, which makes it difficult to see details clearly," she said.' I am glad to share my original sketches with the audience in Hong Kong this time."

The character is named for Gotte's real-life hamster. Both of them shot to fame after she began drawing watercolors of the hamster performing human activities and uploaded them on social media. Her Instagram following now tops 319,000.

A highlight of this exhibition is the Sukeroku in Hong Kong series, which depicts Sukeroku touring Hong Kong. "I imagined Sukeroku going to Hong Kong. What if Hong Kong existed on the hamster map? This thought inspired this series," said the artist.

In Peak Circle Walk, Sukeroku looks over the Victoria Harbour view on the Peak. In true tourist fashion, it has a blue backpack, which can be found in other paintings depicting the hamster's travels. Sukeroku even carries a selfie stick to take pictures.

The hamster's travels do not stop there. It also explores the bustling city in Nathan Road, partakes in street delicacies in Eating Around and hops on the red sightseeing bus in Sunflower Bus.

Life of Hamster Sukeroku also features Gotte's older illustrations of the hamster in hilarious scenes from daily life that resonate with viewers.

"Late, late!" sees Sukeroku rushing out the door with a yellow messenger bag and a piece of toast in its mouth. Morning sees a more relaxed Sukeroku, dressed in a onesie and enjoying some toast alongside a cup of coffee.

In Muscle Training, the poor hamster tries to work out, doing sit-ups and squats, but ultimately gives up and sprawls on the ground instead.

Hamstergram sees the hamster taking a photo of its meal before eating, a ritual borne from today's smartphone-centric world. Adopting the same theme is The Hamster Takes A Picture, a four-picture comic depicting Sukeroku taking a selfie with its phone.

Gotte's illustrations also reveal that the hamster is a foodie, as he tries out various cafes and restaurants in Pumpkin Frappe with Lots of Whipped Cream, The Donut Shop and Treat Myself.

Other than the artworks, the gallery is decorated with Sukeroku figures everywhere, so remember to take a selfie with the adorable peace sign-holding hamster found at the corner of the gallery.

Fans will rejoice to know that the gallery also hosts a small souvenir shop selling merchandise such as plushies, tote bags and keychains, so you can bring your own Sukeroku on your trips around Hong Kong.

Life of Hamster Sukeroku will be exhibiting at Gallery by the Harbour until April 18.

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