Local Burner crew fired up Melbourne streets on February 21 with a blast of Burning Man art and heart at the annual White Night event. The 17-strong kick-arse crew created a 14-metre long, fire-breathing metal dragon and fire forest, which not only enthralled the crowds but made the front page of The Sunday Age and Herald Sun too.
Led by Steph Selig and Sean Diamond, The Crucible project also proved to be a prime example of Burner can-do, with nine of the crew having never welded previously – or worked on large-scale metal art.
The idea came to life when Steph, a Melbourne-based member of the San Francisco art collective Flaming Lotus Girls and a Seeder, approached White Night about doing a fire piece for the all-night event.
Meanwhile, the event organisers were keen to realise another dragon by Melbourne artist Sean Diamond, who had not previously incorporated fire into his sculptures. Add a local pyrotechnical company, Howard & Sons, and a bunch of keen-bean Burners into the mix and, hey presto, a collaboration was born!
Steph’s highlight? “Creating something so big and unleashing a little bit of Burning Man on Melbourne, and having the support of the city and Andrew Walsh (White Night artistic director) behind us the whole way. And empowering nine women to learn to weld was pretty awesome.”
And what about those who went all Flashdance and wielded their metal magic for the first time? Meet three of the women behind the welding mask.
Why did you join the project? I liked the idea of being part of a team that was creating something amazing, and, at the same time, learning how to work with metal and weld.
What was the highlight? Meeting other people working on the project and working with a group of highly creative and fun individuals. Seeing the final piece in action and watching people's reactions was of course also wonderful.
Why did you join the project? It was actually a New Years Resolution of mine to do something challenging and artistic, after going to Burning Seed for the first time in 2014, seeing some amazing art installation, following Burning Man on Instagram and getting inspired by the art.
What was the highlight? Apart from seeing the amazing dragon in its glory, the people I got to work with. Everyone was supportive of ideas and everyone pitched in. Steph and Sean were amazing group leaders. They allowed us to find our own way but also helped a lot.
Why did you join the project? The biggest reason was to increase my knowledge in lighting design and expose my skills in the public realm where most of my industry colleagues can see my work.
What was the highlight? Hearing the gasps of awe and wonder of the audience during White Night. It really made the hard work and effort with the tiny details for lighting and fire effects worth it, and I will cherish this memory for a very long time.
So what next for the Crucible crew? They plan to plumb the dragon themselves to create propane flame effects and to bring their creation to Seed (huzzah!). The project has also spawned a few individual metal projects, which will also be appearing at Seed (Double huzzah!).
Wanna make cool fire shit too? Flame Effects Australia will be running a fire art course in May. Check out the details here. To see more pics from the build, installation and tear down, visit Flame Effects Austalia's Flickr.
Cover pic by Kai O'Yang