Artist and engineer Brendan Walker worked with Year 9 pupils to create a flotilla of steam-powered Pop Pop boats, fabricated from recycled tin cans. Boats were bio-fuelled with oil pressed from sunflower seeds, grown by the boys in a hydroponics tent. Boats were tested at the Victoria Park Steamboat Club – home of the Pop Pop world speed record of 43.84mph achieved by Chatterbox III in 1926.
Around the world they may be called Can-Can-boot, Knatterboot, toc-toc, Puf-Puf boat, Poof Poof craft, Phut-Phut, or Pouet-Pouet
Basil Harley, Toyshop Steam, (Argus Books, 1978)
The installation was exhibited in July 2012 for the White Building opening.
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Seed to Speed is the first in the People Power programme of arts, technology and ecology projects developed with artists and young people in Hackney and Tower Hamlets. It is developing further to involve primary school children.
Thanks to members of the Victoria Model Steamboat Club and Harry (Coracles) Meadows for their kind support.
The Pop Pop boats will be shown again in Product Placement at Angus-Hughes Gallery, from September 7th – 30th 2012
Seed to Speed is supported by Bloomberg ON and Action for Bow.
Brendan originally studied Aeronautical Engineering at Imperial College and worked for British Aerospace. He later retrained, taking an MA in Industrial Design Engineering at the Royal College of Art. Brendan has worked on several major international collaborative projects as a Research Fellow in Interaction Design at the RCA. His last solo research project, Chromo11, formalised his ongoing interest in how to design and create thrilling experiences. Brendan is now Senior Tutor in Design Interaction and runs AERiAL, a consultancy which undertakes both art and commercial commissions, specialising in electromechanical installations.
Brendan is a thrill aficionado. In his spare time he practices karate and races whippets. He is currently consulting for Tussauds Group, advising on strategic ride/experience development, and he recently curated Fairground: Thrill Laboratory for the Science Museum, which premiered in Autumn 2006. Brendan has a studio at SPACE Triangle.