In a recent interview, one pyrotechnician from India is quoted as having said:
They say that to be a pyro-technician or pyro-master, you need 5 things:
The talent of an artist
The hand of a sculptor
The heart of a poet
The eye of a painter
And the courage of a warrior
Never has a truer statement been made.
Fireworks are unique in the fact that across the globe, there are families who have passed down generation after generation the skills, secrets and recipes for that perfectly clean, beautifully bright firework burst. People in the industry, particularly manufacturers and professional firers, have this unmitigated love affair with this humble artistry.
There are still established ‘pyro-families’ who still dominate the world of display fireworks today, including the likes of Grucci, Zambelli, Rozzi, Foti and Vitale to name but a few. Firework production is one of the oldest art forms in the World, which has developed constantly over the centuries from its humble beginnings where gunpowder was accidentally created just outside the City of Liuyang, China to the ‘super displays’ for New Year celebrations in cities like London and Sydney, Australia.
Back in 2013, Epic Fireworks was invited to sponsor a film about the fireworks culture across the globe. We were of course honoured to be included and grabbed the opportunity to gain a better understanding of fireworks and how they touch the lives of millions of people annually. The Passfire team has tried to visit all of the worlds continents, except Antarctica (for obvious reasons) to understand what fireworks mean to the people who watch them, those who make them and the professionals who handle them daily. Most recently, they returned from a trip to Africa, where although it is the second biggest continent in the World, little was known about fireworks.
So, their journey took in South Africa, Kenya and the Republic of the Congo. The fireworks industry is still in it infancy in Africa and the amount of disposable income, even in business circles, is limited so this naturally lessens the amount of money available for shows. The ‘professional shows’ over in Africa are smaller (due to funding) quieter than the rest of the World (thanks to their incredible tough noise pollution rules) and are generally hand-fired, rather than electronically fired because of cost. They even struggle to get goods in for sale, due to problems encountered with shipping, border controls and transport in and out of Africa. This is the reason one of the companies took the decision to manufacture their own. This year, the team from Fireworks for South Africa competed in Da Nang, Vietnam and whilst they didn’t win on this occasion, they were certainly a force to be reckoned with thanks to some beautiful use of colour.
The Passfire Film will be completed late this year and hopefully released shortly thereafter.
There are of course, many others who use gunpowder or pyrotechnics as an art medium, like Cai Guo-Qiang, internationally acclaimed artist. His works include smaller works featuring explosions which literally scorch images onto canvass like his ‘Bikini & offering of flowers’ all the way up to huge outdoor creations including daytime fireworks as used for his ‘Remembrance – Chapter 2 of Elegy’. Whilst his work is not to everyone’s taste aesthetically, there is no doubt that Mr Guo Qiang has indeed got at least 3 of those 5 ‘essentials to being a pyromaster’ in the bag.