The "FarmStrong"

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(Click on any image to enlarge)

This prototype rocket represents possibly the first ever (only?) agricultural use of ballistics, being designed for the efficient aerial distribution of agricultural fertiliser (fore-runner to crop-spraying by aircraft?). For propulsion, it uses a patented combination of steam power and the natural explosive properties of the fertiliser raw material it is designed to distribute.
It is named ("FarmStrong") after the successful Victorian inventor, industrialist and arms manufacturer W.G.Armstrong (F-Armstrong = Farm Strong), who might have invented such a device – except that he died 15 years before ammonium nitrate (fertiliser) was first used as a powerful explosive....

In fact, this piece was inspired by the acquisition of the case - which was constructed in 1986 of composite plastic materials, to carry a modern mortar shell. I thought it would be interesting to create something to fit in it that might have been made 100 years earlier, during the peak of Victorian inventiveness. The "FarmStrong" makers plate shows a date of 1886.

Materials: brass, copper, shell cases, fire-hose parts, grease guns, mortar case
Dimensions: 27" x 7" x 6.5" (69cm x 18cm x 17cm)
Weight: 13lb (6Kg)
Dimensions of case: 32" x 8.5" x 11" (81cm x 22cm x 28cm)
Weight including case: 36lb (16Kg)
This piece comes with a heavy custom-made steel stand, constructed from re-cycled parts of agricultural implements, which displays it in "launch" position.

This piece was displayed as part of the Oxfordshire Artweeks exhibition, and also at the The Independent Artist Fair, London. It features in an article entitled "The art of industry" by Esther Lafferty (Director of Oxford Artweeks), published in the October 2014 issue of OX magazine - read the article page 1 and page 2; read the online version of the article here; download the entire magazine here (20Mb PDF) - the sculpture features on the Contents page.

This work is associated with the memory of my dear friend Dan Fullerton, who passed away in 2012. As a fan of my work, and being an agricultural economist, I hope he would have particularly enjoyed this piece.

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