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Tanabata: Star Village 

With Slow Art Collective

Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS):
Powerhouse Museum and Sydney Observatory

Creative Director
Kathryn Hunyor

Slow Art Collective
Chaco Kato & Dylan Martorell

Guest Artist
Midori Furze origami artist

ArtsPeople Team
Danielle Robson, Shingo Usami, Noriko Yamanaka


Sonsoles Fueyo Hidalgo, Lindy Goodwin and Ryan Hernandez



Trinket Films


Supported by

The Japan Foundation, Sydney.


Book and merchandise

Created in partnership with MAAS

Artist and designer Haline Ly

Editing by Alison Peters.

Powerhouse Museum & Sydney Observatory combined: 70,000+
Over 17 days

25-26 June, 2-17 July 2016

Available To Tour from February 2024

Tanabata: Star Village is an immersive, participatory art experience for all ages, inspired by the annual Japanese star festival.

The traditional Tanabata festival celebrates the story of how two stars – Orihime (Vega) and Hikoboshi (Altair) – came to be in the sky. Tanabata is held on or around the 7th July each year. During the Tanabata season people write their wishes on ‘tanzaku’ wishing cards, and make origami decorations, to hang on bamboo branches that decorate the streets. Children sing the Tanabata song and read stories of Orihime and Hikoboshi.

ArtsPeople created a contemporary art adaptation of this festival together with Chaco Kato & Dylan Martorell (Slow Art Collective). Highly interactive and multi-sensory, the audience’s collective creativity brings the Tanabata artwork to life, while exploring issues of loyalty, environmental sustainability and individual responsibility. Gradually over the course of the installation, the Tanabata galaxy flourishes with the community’s wishes and artistic creations.

Whimsical, poignant and layered with meaning, Tanabata transcends culture to give us a magical moment of coming together to celebrate our universal hopes, fears and dreams.

The Artists
Chaco Kato is a renowned contemporary artist based in Melbourne who creates large-scale site-specific installations in both urban and rural contexts.

Born in Japan, Chaco has been based in Australia since 1996, exhibiting nationally and internationally, including NGV, Arts Centre Melbourne, 3331 Arts Chiyoda (Tokyo), 
and Esplanade Performance Centre (Singapore). She holds a BFA from SMFA at Tufts Boston, and Master of Fine Arts from the VCA. She was the recipient of the Paris Cite
 des Arts, and a studio at Gertrude Contemporary Art Space 1998 – 2000.

In 2008 together with Dylan Martorell, Chaco founded Slow Art Collective (SAC). SAC focuses on creative practices relating to environmental sustainability, material ethics, DIY culture and collaboration. Members of the collective share common ideas on process-based art practice and the slow absorption of culture through community engagement. With Chaco and Dylan as its core members, other artists, children and the community are invited to collaborate in each project.

The Project
Australian children and families discover the Tanabata story through hands-on art making, interactive storytelling, and artistic collaboration, all within a beautiful art environment.

Site-specific art installation: Chaco Kato and SAC respond to the space, creating intricate yet robust environments from bamboo, string, and other architectural structures. The ephemeral Tanabata installations are beautiful interpretations of the story, designed to be cumulative and responsive to audience contribution over the course of the project.

Tanzaku wishing cards: children and families write their wishes on special ‘tanzaku’ and hang them in the artwork.

Origami & Kirigami: audiences make their own decorations to hang with their ‘tanzaku’ wishing cards.

Weaving: walls of the art environment fill up with the brightly-coloured weaving by the children.

Interactive storytelling: children participate through sound and movement in the telling of the Tanabata story, guided by professional bilingual actors.

Additional public programs: origami demonstrations and singing workshops

Our Approach
Tanabata was devised and created by ArtsPeople in collaboration with artist Chaco Kato. The project was originally commissioned by the Japan Foundation, Sydney in 2013.

In 2016, we worked collaboratively with MAAS to create this bespoke version of Tanabata as their main program offering across the Powerhouse Museum and Sydney Observatory for the winter school holidays.

Our role included:
Curatorial & Programming Services
Production and Project Management
Audience Engagement Strategies
Book Publication

Tanabata: Star Village With Slow Art Collective
Tanabata: Star Village With Slow Art Collective
Tanabata: Star Village With Slow Art Collective
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