I'm reading
Weaving stars to light up the darkness
Pass it on
Pass it on
I'm reading
Weaving stars to light up the darkness
Pass it on
Pass it on
I'm reading
Weaving stars to light up the darkness
Pass it on
Pass it on
Articles
19 November 2014

Weaving stars to light up the darkness

When Maryann Talia Pau started weaving stars to fight against the tide of violence, something beautiful started…

Written by Kirsty Imms

Behind extraordinary ideas, there are extraordinary people. Dumbo Feather is a magazine about these people.

It’s easy to be inspired by those who are making a difference. But sometimes it’s hard to see what our contribution to the world will be. After all, when things look so grim, where do we even begin? The truth is that often the best way to start is just by, well, starting.

When Samoan-born artist Maryann Talia Pau was overcome by her local community’s outpouring of grief and support after the rape and murder of Jill Meagher in 2012, she at first didn’t know quite how to respond. But a quote poking its head out from between flowers at a vigil for Jill stirred something in her. It was Martin Luther King Jr:

“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.”

So Maryann started doing what she knew how to do: weaving.

Two years before, Maryann had co-founded the Pacific Women’s Weaving Circle as a place for Pacific Islander women to feel safe, empowered and strong. Now she started weaving stars to fight against the tide of violence, particularly against women.

“I felt we needed more light in this time of sadness and darkness,” Maryann tells Dumbo Feather. “I imagined the night sky being so bright from the light of a gazillion stars that everyone would be able to return to the safety of their homes and loved ones.”

That’s why Maryann started the project 1 Million Stars to End Violence.

To help her get to her goal of 1 million stars by 2018, she began enlisting the community, holding free workshops where people would come together to make stars and support those around the world who are victims of violence. She hopes people leave group weaving sessions with the feeling that anything is possible, “that no matter how epic or unrealistic some goals and aspirations are, it all begins with hope, courage and a tiny bit of effort.”

Creative Women’s Weaving Circle, Frankie and Swiss, 2013. Photo: Martina Gemmola. 

From time to time, Maryann will create an installation of the stars woven from ribbons of every colour, made by people all over the world. It’s art that is aesthetically gorgeous but also beautiful because of the meaning wrapped up in every star, the power of group effort. It reminds us of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, a story that’s also about creating hope through everyday craft.

Here the stars are this year, hanging from a tree at the Finders Keepers Market in Brisbane.

Photo: Mark Yettica-Paulson 2014

“It really is a magnificent thing to see thousands of woven stars hanging together,” says Maryann. “It’s even more powerful to experience in person because it has a spirit about them that is so strong.”

When she sees all the stars she’s collected, around 16,000 of them by our reckoning, Maryann sees people’s love. “They’re more than just stars. They’re people’s hearts, intentions and good vibes to make more peace, more safety and less violence.”

Kirsty Imms

Kirsty Imms is a Melbourne-based journalist. Stay up-to-date with her work here.

Feature image: 1 Million Stars project at The Big Design Market. Photo by John Englezos, 2013.

I want more things that inspire me to...

Dumbo Feather Newsletter

Let’s be friends. We'll tell you all the good stuff.