Two weeks before he was billed to perform in the opening ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, aerial circus performer and pyro-technician, Craig Hull, approached a close friend of his with a heartfelt proposition: to take his partners ashes out onto the field of play and make him a part of the show. His friend agreed, though at the time neither one could know what this experience would come to mean for them, or where it would eventually lead.
“I remember being up in the air, spinning around, with him in my pocket. I remember pulling him out and letting him go and it seemed like time slowed down. As he took off, separating out in all directions, I spun, looping back under the wires until the moment when I looked up into the light spilling out above me and I was awestruck by what I saw. It was beautiful. Hard and soft particles were falling down around me, or drifting, floating up into the sky, backlit by all these colourful beams of light. I remember I had goosebumps. That moment has always stuck with me.”
It was not until years later, with the passing of his pet Labrador Gyprock, that Craig was struck by how he could recreate that moment in all its vivid energy – its celebration of life – so that pet lovers might experience similar feelings of awe and wonder and closure.
“I was working on the new years eve fireworks display over Sydney Harbour, Gyprock had just passed away and I was really down about it. I remember being on the beach organising everything when this thought just occurred to me, wouldn’t it be something else if I could send Gyprock off in that way, in one of the fireworks that is, and well… I got the go ahead and I did it and I’ll tell you what, it was truly special.”
Today Craig owns and operates a service called Ashes to Ashes, where for around AUD$950 he will encase a pet’s ashes in a custom made firework shell and launch it into the night sky in a dazzling display of light, colour and sound. The experience created is truly unique, whereby the passing of loved pets can be marked and remembered with an energetic, captivating display, symbolising the beauty of a life lived. The service provided is respectful, meaningful and contemporary. Upon arrival, hundreds of rainbow coloured tea candles mark a path leading from the car park to the viewing platform, which is covered in picnic blankets and cushions to make it relaxed and comfortable, with bar and catering provided. Music is also available on request. The event commences with the push of a button, which you can choose to push yourself, with the display typically lasting for approximately twelve minutes. As Craig describes it,
Entrance to his first firework farewell
“Instead of being a morbid or wholly sad experience it’s colourful, it has sound, it has height, you are looking up into the heavens, so you can always see what’s happening. Everyone gets to be involved.”
So far the responses have been overwhelmingly positive and Craig is enthusiastic about the future, with ideas of possibly one day expanding the service to include low-Earth orbit space launches. At this stage, however, Craig is busy enough with the steady influx of people curious to participate in this new way of remembering their pets, to watch as their corporeal dimensions explode as light onto the inky black canvas of the night sky, like stars reaching up to join an infinite multitude. And why not?