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One star at a time

Queensland artist Maryann Talia Pau is collecting one million individually weaved stars from across the globe to form an impressive installation with a powerful message.

Each star has been woven as a statement to end violence - some are woven for forgiveness and healing, some have been woven to continue the conversation.

The stars are needed by July 2017 to feature in an installation at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. The installation for GC2018 will be a collective statement against all forms of violence and will show how much can be achieved when we work together as a community.

We spoke to Maryann about her project to end violence together, one star at a time.

Installation at the Royal Exhibition Building, Photo by Nik Harrison

What inspired you to start the One Million Stars project?

I was inspired by some amazing words of hope and light by Dr Martin Luther King Jnr at the vigil for a young woman who was raped and murdered near my church and studio. Dr King's word's "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that" really moved me. I made a choice, then and there, to focus on the light, goodness and courage of those still living to work towards ensuring everyone could live a life free from violence. I remember thinking that we don't need a tragedy to gather and fight for safety and dignity for everyone, that we can be committed, inclusive and collaborative in our efforts to end monumental things like violence. I was, and still am, deeply devastated by the ongoing violence we inflict on others and our environment but I am choosing to use my skills and gifts to bring people together around the world, to connect and stand together in the belief that we can end ALL forms of violence.

Why stars?

Stars are an important symbol for me, because they remind me of our ancestors’ skill and courage to navigate their way across the oceans using the light of the stars. I love the idea of having navigating stars as well. When things get tough or when I feel unsure about things, my husband will always remind me, "What are your navigating stars?". My navigating stars are like my values, that help me to remember what is important to me, who I am and that I have the strength of my loved ones and ancestors to guide me, just like the stars did in ancient times. For this project, my hope is that the stars will remind us to be the light and courage in the world, to work towards ending all forms of violence for everyone.

Maryann hosting a weaving workshop, Photo by Martina Gemmola

How important is it to have this on display at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games?

The GC2018 is an incredible international platform for the One Million Stars to End Violence project, where we get to share with the world that people care about ending violence in all parts of our globe, including the Commonwealth. It's a huge privilege to be able to make this statement with so many people around the world, that I am not the only one who believes in hope, healing and solidarity. I think the ambition and sheer number of stars for this project also reflects the level of excellence and passion required to participate in the Commonwealth Games. I love how the power of the One Million Stars project compliments the Commonwealth Games beautifully.

You are currently touring Commonwealth communities to spread the One Million Stars message, what has been the best part of your trip so far?Weaving workshop, Photo by Martina Gemmola

Experiencing first- hand the beauty and diversity of these places has been amazing. I have loved going to different parts of the South Pacific which I love and am connected to. I also appreciate that while we look at these places as paradise or with a sense of longing, Australia is just as beautiful and magical. Every country has an incredible network of people who are passionate and driven to care for their country/place and to solve issues concerning their people and the land. It is a privilege to learn how other communities across the globe look after each other and their environments.

What are some ways people can get involved?

It's so easy for people to get involved. Simply visit the One Million Stars website, and watch the tutorial on how to weave an 8 pointed star and where to send stars in. There are three ways to get involved: Star Weave Solo , run a Star Weave Jam or workshop with friends, your school or work or you can get more people in your community involved by signing up to be a Star Weave Community - a community that pledges to weave and collect 10,000 stars by July 2017.

What are some great ideas for those looking to host a ‘Star Weave Jam’?

Make it fun and invite people to bring a plate of food to share. Some friends have had 'wine and weaving' nights. One Star Weave Community organised a "Bring a boyfriend" star weaving workshop which is such a great idea! This project isn't just for women, girls or crafty types. This project reminds us that everyone needs to get involved to really make a difference to the amount of violence in our communities. Violence impacts all of us, and sometimes it feels hard starting out with tackling such a huge issue, but if we just have a go and if we work together, good things are possible!



Maryann Talia Pau is an artist and practising weaver based in the Redlands, Queensland. She is a co-founder of the Pacific Women's Weaving Circle and her main work is making breastplates and body adornment for exhibition. Maryann recently showed work at the SaVAge K'lub collaboration, curated by Rosanna Raymond, for the Asia Pacific Triennial at QAGOMA. Maryann has exhibited at the NGV, Craft Victoria and Artisan and is currently travelling to parts of the Commonwealth as a part of her partnership with the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games arts and cultural program to promote the One Million Stars project.