Grace Pilcher: Dreaming Big with the FireFlower

Dragon Dreaming

Grace Pilcher is one of our bright and creative students here at College of Event Management in Melbourne. Earlier this year she scored the opportunity of her dreams when she became part of the creative design team at The FireFlower: are a collective of like-minded artists who work to produce incredible artistic installations for festivals and the like – their latest project was hosted by Dragon Dreaming Festival in Wee Jasper. I recently sat down with Grace to discuss her experiences.

Q. Why did you choose to study event management?
A. I love music and the arts. I’ve always been bummed that I don’t possess some kind of crazy musical talent or artistic ability even though I consider myself to be quite a ‘creative’. As I got older and began to attend more gigs, festivals and exhibitions, I realised that events were something that would allow me to work closely with the things I love, and also express some of my creativity. The diversity of events really appealed to me as I can often get bored and restless in roles that don’t challenge me.

Q. How will you be able to engage with your creative side in an event management role?
A. Many parts of events allow you to get the creative juices flowing. From unique concept for programs and sustainability to the more obvious styling and design elements. It’s all about getting into a role that allows you to add a bit of flare to your projects.

Q. What’s your dream role?
A. I’ve always wanted to be around the arts and music scene, so I’m more likely to steer in that direction, but for me I think it will be more about opening myself up to roles and positions I didn’t necessarily consider when I first looked into event management. Extravagant theming and decoration really interest me so I’ve been working in festival décor for a little while with a group called The FireFlower. I would love to be given the opportunity to work on a main stage, a bigger project within festivals or other art based events. I can also see myself working alongside venues to deliver music performances.

Q. How long have you been working with The FireFlower?
A. I’ve been working with The FireFlower since the beginning of 2015. For the majority of the year it has been a lot of planning and preparation; designs, budgets, proposals and meeting after meeting after meeting! But as festival season is beginning to warm up I’ve finally be able to see some projects start coming to life in recent months.

Q. How did you secure such a great opportunity?
A. One of my teachers in the Melbourne part-time class, Garth, actually put me in contact with the guys who run The FireFlower. I spoke to him about my interests in décor and theming and he said I’d be a good fit for them. I had a meeting with them in Northcote and we all gelled really well, and I guess the rest was history!

Q. Describe a typical work day with The FireFlower?
A. We get together to have meetings over some carrot sticks and hummus every few weeks or more, depending on the projects we are working on at the time. During these meetings we talk about upcoming projects and bounce ideas off each other and brainstorm. In the early stages of a project, we often break up tasks or jobs into our strengths, and each complete our tasks by next meeting, (like costing materials, contacting venues or researching lighting options). When projects get closer, we’ll all get together to work on large pieces, like the dragon head, together.

The actual building process is much different. Months and months of work all come together in a few days. Usually up at sunrise and past midnight, it’s a lot of physical work crammed into a few days. Thing don’t always go exactly as planned so there’s usually a bit of contingency plans developed as we go. It’s always a really inspiring process though and everyone is always super excited so energy is always really high.

Q. What has been the highlight of working with the team at The FireFlower?
A. Dragon Dreaming festival in Wee Jasper has definitely been the highlight for me so far. Though we all bought our own elements to him to make him what he was in the end, the original design for the dragon was mine. It was such an absolute privilege to have something I’d drawn in a sketch book on my couch come to life for a bunch of strangers to enjoy. I feel so blessed to have a team behind me that completely backed me from the very beginning, it was something I would never have dreamed I’d be doing at my age. The festival was one of the most incredible I’ve ever been to, and the whole community was super supportive of our work. We’ve also been accepted to do a small installation at Rainbow Serpent Festival this summer so I’m really looking forward to being a part of that process.

Dragon Dreaming

Q. How was the Dragon made?
A. The body and wings of the dragon, whose name is actually ‘Vulcan’, is made from old windsurfing booms covered in stretch fabric. The FireFlower has been collecting these booms for years and years and we’re always on the lookout for cool shaped stuff we can up-cycle and give a new life. His head and tail are hand painted pieces of ply wood with velvet and gold lycra stretched across the underbelly and his spine is hand stitched lycra stretched over some crazy pliable metal we found. But most of all, he’s made with looooooove.

Q. What advice would you give to someone who is interested in working in event design?
A. You have to be in it for the love. It takes a long time (in the festival circuit anyway) to get to a level where this kind of work is financially dependable. This is more of a love affair for us at the moment. It’s a lot of hard work and a lot of man hours to pull something like this off but when you’re standing in front of your creation at an event it’s worth all the effort. Get into a team that you fit well with. I have always felt so welcomed and inspired by the rest of The FireFlower team and you can really create magic when you gel with other people like that. Just take whatever opportunities feel right for you.

Check out our website – http://thefireflower.org/

Or Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/TheFireFlower/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

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