Interview by Virgin Islands News Online

Posted by on Aug 14, 2011 in China, My Blog | No Comments

Team of WorkersI was recently interviewed by Virgin Islands News Online (VINO). Below are the answers I gave. To review the full published online click on VINO


1. Is this the first time you have been asked to build a fireball overseas? Maybe give a summary if there were others?

No, this is not the first time I have made a fire ball sculpture overseas. In 2008  I made three 5 feet Fire Ball Sculptures in the UK. One for a private commission and the other 2 for different sculpture parks: Burghley House Sculpture Park in the UK and De Suzers Art Park in the Channel Islands. I was invited to make one in Vermont USA last year but unfortunately the blank fire ball was found to have a fundamental flaw in it just before I was about to fly up there, so the project had to be delayed.

2. Give some specs of the fireball and how many persons are involved in building it?

The Fire Ball is 3 meters in diameter…that is near enough to 10 feet. It is made out of 8 millimeter steel plates that were welded together from flat sheets in the rough shape of a sphere. The Fire  Ball was then filled with water and a small bomb was exploded inside it. The pressure of the explosion was equalized by the water and the metal was forced out to make perfect sphere.
This new  hi tech process was done in a factory in Beijing by a team of metallurgists . I will be visiting the factory it was made in next week to learn more about the process.

3. Your specific roles if there are any?

My role is to imagine the concept, draw the design, instigate the production and oversee its completion. I have a team of Chinese helpers including one engineer and  four metal workers, specialized in plasma cutting, welding and grinding.

4. Are other Caribbean persons part of the group?

Yes there is a large contingent of artists from the Caribbean

Edney Freeman from the USVI (who has family in Fahie Hill)
Michael Hunt from Antigua (family to Glanville Penn of East End)
Jacob Frederick from Dominica
Ellon Lewis from Grenada
Dianne Walcott from Barbados
Jallim Eudovique from St Lucia
Amos Sandy from St Vincent
Hetty Juanita de Gannes from Trinidad and Tobago
Rene Mendez from Cuba
Claude Montes from Haiti

There is an amazing creative solidarity and friendship between us, largely due to our common heritage and shared environment.

There is a total of 104 artist from 104 countries around the world.

3. How do you feel being asked to build the world’s largest fireball and what do you see it doing for the BVI?

For me this a great honor to be recognized for my artistic work, by one of the biggest and most powerful countries in the world.
I feel that this is excellent exposure for the BVI in the field of our  artistic and cultural development.

4. How do you see your involvement actually promoting the BVI? Is your name mentioned at events or ceremonies etc?

My presence here is a daily promotion for the BVI. My name and country is mentioned at every ceremony  and event and the two sculptures I have made here will be permanently placed in the biggest sculpture park in the world, with my name and country on 2 bronze plaques, that will be viewed by millions of people over time. Aside from that the Chinese press are giving steady coverage to the event. We have photographers, camera men and journalists at the work site on a daily basis. This will increase for the closing ceremony. The artists are treated as VIP guests of the state, we are housed in a 5 star hotel and given a police escort when ever we travel as a group. The BVI could  learn  a bit from China on how to treat visiting cultural ambassadors.

5. How did they know about you and your skills?

I was actually invited to participate in 2008 for the first time, but I could not attend due to prior commitments. I believe they saw images of my sculptures on the Internet and decided to contact me .

6. What is the current status of the Fire Ball Sculpture in preparation for its big day? When will the event take place?

I finished the Fire Ball Sculpture today. Tomorrow it will be burnt at China’s first Fire Ball Full Moon party that has kindly been organized by the management committee out of respect for this new BVI tradition. After that it will be placed in the sculpture park and displayed to the people at the  opening ceremony on September 1st.

7. How long have you been into sculpting or building Fire Balls?

I have been making sculptures for the past 25 years. The first fire ball was made in 1994.

8. When do you return and whats your next project?

I return to the BVI on September 10th 2011.

The next big artistic project I am working on is a collaborative plan to create a series of underwater sculpture parks in the BVI.
I will also be preparing plans to take part in an international outdoor sculpture exhibition in Australia in November 2012.

I would like to thank those in the BVI who have expressed support and encouragement for my project in China. In particular the BVI Tourist Board, who have recognized the very positive publicity potential to be gained from the exposure of  my art work to a world audience and for taking up the theme of  Fire Ball Full Moon parties as a promotional tool for their global marketing strategy. The BVI Tourist Board has also given me the honor of presenting a BVI flag to the Mayor of Changchun (a city of 8 million people) at the closing ceremony of the symposium.