Star weave Jam at Highbury Studio, organised by Jo Walsh (standing, 2nd from right) with London locals, including Sophia Victoria from Visiting Arts & World Cultures Connect, Somerset House London.
London, Dublin and Edinburgh was a big trip. Beautiful but big. It was everything I expected and more. Not just because I experienced this with our teenage daughter, Tavina, (who we homeschool. Anyone who has travelled with kids, you get my drift) but because they are huge busy cities on the other side of the world where many of our ancestors come from. There is Scottish ancestry on my husband's side and German on my mother's side, so it was interesting experiencing this feeling of being on ancestral land so far away from what is familiar (and warm!). There's so much history and knowledge to soak up in these places, that I find myself thinking again about how important and enriching it is to discover and claim all the cultures we belong. I also appreciate how complex and painful some of this history can be for a lot of us.
Bringing the stars to London, Dublin and Edinburgh was very exciting. We had a bit of culture shock on the first day - it felt surreal being in London, especially after an intense week of star weaving workshops, a star installation at Redland Art Gallery and local media in Brisbane. And here we were in London town, admiring iconic landmarks like the Queen Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben Clock and getting our bearings for meetings and a star weave jam at Highbury Studio.
I had some really positive meetings with Georgie Fay, Education schools and Family learning Coordinator at October Gallery and Sophia Victoria from Visiting Arts & World Cultures Connect. Georgie is working towards running star weaving workshops at October Gallery with youth and other artists and Sophia joined us for our Star Weave Jam, organised by Jo Walsh (Producer, Iris Dreaming). I always encourage people to host or attend a star weaving workshop with me, because they get to experience first hand the joy and therapy of weaving. It really is where the magic happens, where all kinds of ideas and possibilities for community engagement can happen. Of course, when I say 'community' I mean everyone, business, art, culture, government, the marginalised and suffering, leaders and followers.
Visiting Arts is based at Somerset House, where UTOPIA 2016: A Year of Imagination and Possibility is currently being held, a series of exhibitions, talks and events. UTOPIA will be running a few star weaving workshops over the next little while so stay tuned on our social media Londoners, and get along to get your star weave on! I also had the pleasure of meeting Ken Smith at Australia High Commission who was so generous with contacts and ideas for who to share the One Million Stars project with in London including Rebecca Hossack Gallery and Samoan poet, Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh who read one of her poems earlier this year at Commonwealth Day in London. It's always a rush of excitement sharing the project and discussing ways to share it within that city or community. I could honestly sit for hours with each of these people, drawing up connections on a white board: who to meet with, who to email and who to have coffee with. I could've easily stayed in London, Dublin and Edinburgh for 6 months travelling back and forth and stopping in between to share the One Million Stars project and run workshops with local communities.
I also made some time to visit the British Museum and explore some of their collection of Pacific objects for the development of new work. Their permanent display of works by artist George Nuku (Aotearoa, New Zealand) was stunning. I was particularly interested in their collection of tapa and hair combs donated from Malietoa Laupepe, King of Samoa in the late 1800s. Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford has a stunning collection of combs that I hope to visit one day! Next time : )
Dublin was a super fast trip. We visited Thirdspace Cafe to drop off postcards and weave a few stars for their space. I also got to meet a few of the staff at the Irish Refugee Council. Huge thanks to Aoife Dare, Youth Worker at the council for wanting to share this with the young people who come through this service. I accidently came across a beautiful craft and design shop called Cow Lane Designer Studio in Temple Bar and they asked for stars and postcards to promote the project too! So good. Had a pretty emotional conversation with one of the workers there, which reminds me all the time that everyone is affected by violence.
Edinburgh was a special time. I ran a hugely fun and relaxing workshop with Hot Brown Honey, at White Stuff UK, a retail store that had a space for making in the centre of their store (lvl 1) and an exhibition of work by local craft, artists and designers at Craft Scotland EdSummer2016 (lvl 2). HBH who are currently performing at Edinburgh Fringe Festival and receiving INCREDIBLE reviews for their clever, stunning and powerful theatre. White Stuff were so impressed by the workshop that they are keen to run more over the next few months as well! Exciting They have a lovely installation of woven stars at Assembly Roxy that travels with them where ever they perform, including Manchester and Dublin next month. There is a powerful part in their show (actually, every part is powerful!!) where Busty Beats talks about the One Million Stars project in response to Crystal Stacey's breathtaking performance. So many people cry at this point because it's so moving, and yep, I was one of them!
I also got to check out The Just Festival and met with their Festival Director, Beata Skobodzinska who I am working with to help create workshops and possibly an installation next year. Their current exhibition, The Displacement Dilemma, pictures of and words by reguees and assylum seekers themselves in the UK at St John's Church, Edinburgh was so moving.
Meeting people in person and sharing the project first hand in communities around the world is such a huge privilege. The work continues coming back home as we seek to stay connected and encouraging them to continue spreading the word and getting their communities to weave stars.
From Rarotonga to Samoa, to London, Dublin and Edinburgh, it will soon be time to pack again for Canada. I'm so excited about the communities I am going to meet and star weave over there.
Our goal is to set a Star Weave Community in every city or country I visit. So far, we're doing pretty well. It's truly amazing!!