We Are All Stars Public Lecture

red light walkway through forest at night

14 Apr 2016

6pm to 8pm

We Are All Stars Public Lecture: 

Professor Chris Wainwright, Pro Vice-Chancellor, University of the Arts London 
Robin Jenkins, Senior Lecturer, Interior Spatial Design, Chelsea College of Arts, University of the Arts London 

Thursday 14th April, 6pm – 8pm (Lecture starts at 6:45pm)

Chelsea College of Arts, University of the Arts London invites you to an evening lecture to hear about the three projects; ESCAPE ROUTEWe Are All Stars and Atlantic Pacific International Rescue Boat Project that are currently underway in Kamaishi, Tohoku.  

Join us for this lecture and to enjoy the We Are All Stars Exhibition at The Nihonbashi Institute of Contemporary Arts. 



On the 11th March 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake occurred off the northern coast of Japan. The Great East Japan Earthquake was the most powerful earthquake ever recorded to have hit Japan and the fourth most powerful earthquake in the world since modern record-keeping began in 1900.

This earthquake triggered a powerful Tsunami which struck the Iwate Prefecture and travelled up to 10km in land. Figures from the Japanese National Police Agency in 2015 confirmed that the Great East Japan Earthquake killed 15,891 people, injured 6,152 and 2,584 people missing across 20 prefectures. As well as the loss of life, the Tsunami caused devastating damage to the northern prefecture, destroying buildings, roads and railways. The earthquake also caused the Fukushima Nuclear accident, where there were meltdowns at three reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. 

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said, “In the 65 years after the end of World War II, this is the toughest and the most difficult crisis for Japan.”[1]

Four years on and the impact of the Earthquake and Tsunami is acutely apparent in the Iwate Prefecture. Although there is a slow programme of physical reconstruction, individuals and communities are understandably still devastated by the events of 03.11. 

In 2013, the Japanese Government funded the NPO organisation Future-Lab to engage with the Tohoku (located in the Iwate Prefecture) community to connect, cooperate and share the loss and impact of the Tsunami in order to start considering the future and re-build a community. Chelsea College of Arts will participate in these projects in order to create social change and community cohesion through creative culture. 

Following this initial project in 2013, Chelsea College of Arts has proposed the following three projects that they would like to progress in the Iwate Prefecture and are seeking funding and support.



Spotted along the coast of North Eastern Japan are a series of paths that lead from the bottom of the hilly shoreline to higher ground. These routes have been carved by people escaping the 2011 Tsunami, and subsequent tsunami warning drills.

There is one such route located in Kamaishi, behind the Houraikan Hotel, which was used by hundreds of people during the 2011 Tsunami, and illustrated how important it is to have designated escape routes in such an event. However as the routes are only used on these rare occasions and are not maintained or well known to the community.

The Japanese Government advise that if you are in an area at risk from a Tsunami, then you should 1) Plan an evacuation route from your home, school and workplace 2) pick an area 100 feet above sea level or 2 miles inland, and follow footpaths inland, rather than roads that usually run parallel to coastlines. You should also 3) Practice your evacuation route both in daylight and at night [2] 

In summer 2015, Chelsea College of Arts took 4 students from London to Kamaishi to work with the local schools and the community to design a nature trail along the route that was used to escape the 2011 Tsunami. By re-purposing this route into a nature trail, and engaging schools and the community to be part of its concept and design, the trail could become a path that families and tourists will use on a regular basis in both day and night time, as well as a potentially life-saving escape route. 

The project has produced several designs for a nature trail that can act as an escape route in the event of a Tsunami which can also be repurposed for other such routes along the coastline of Japan.


We Are All Stars

We Are All Stars is a selection of photoworks by Chris Wainwright resulting from collaborations with musician, director and composer Cathy Milliken, which have been choreographed and created for the camera. It also includes a sound piece by Cathy Milliken. Over the past three years they have both been involved with projects involving local communities and invited international artists coming together in Kamaishi and other nearby coastal areas of the Iwate Prefecture in Japan. The projects both individual and collaborative have focused on the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami and its lasting effect on places and people in the region.

“One of the deeply engrained memories from a recent visit to Kamaishi, is the recollection of survivors telling me just how clear the sky was on the night of the tsunami on the 11 March 2011, with no electricity to pollute the night sky, and how bright the stars were. As they looked up to the sky they pondered on the fate of all those who were swept away by the retreating sea and wondered if their souls had been transformed into the stars above. Many people were ‘taken’ by the tsunami and never found and remain to this day in that transitional and restless space between worlds”


Atlantic Pacific International Rescue Boat Project (APIRBP)

Atlantic Pacific International Rescue Boat Project began in March 2015 after a research project based in Kamaishi City, North East Japan. The project was initiated by Robin Jenkins, after being invited by UAL and Future Lab Tohoku to visit the Tsunami effected region of the North Eastern Coast of Japan. During this period of research, Jenkins discovered that Japan does not operate a Lifeboat Service.

APIRBP was initiated to provide a prototype Lifeboat and training to the local people of Kamaishi with the ambition that a regional lifeboat service could be established and potential to become the catalyst for a growing service across Japan. The United World College of The Atlantic in South Wales (birthplace of the invention of the Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat) were commissioned to develop and construct a prototype boat and provide a crew to go to Japan and train local people how to operate such a boat. The prototype has been constructed and will be transported to Kamaishi in Summer 2016. This boat will be housed in a shipping container that will serve as a Lifeboat Station (Lifeboat in a box, which will be designed and installed by Chelsea College of Art Design students. 

APIRBP will become a registered charity which will work with local communities and government organisations globally to provide design and physical solutions, where they currently do not exist, for at-sea rescue and assistance. 


About Chelsea College of Arts, University of the Arts London

Chelsea College of Arts, University of the Arts London, has established itself as one of London’s most prestigious art and design colleges and our Fine Art, Graphic Design Communication, Interior and Spatial Design and Textile Design courses have produced some UAL’s most illustrious alumni including Anish Kapoor, Steve McQueen, Haroon Mirza, Mariko Mori, Mike Nelson, Chris Ofili, Mark Wallinger and Tatty Devine co-founders - Harriet Vine and Rosie Wolfenden.

As well as teaching students the practical, theoretical and professional elements of their subject in well-equipped workshops from our expert staff, Chelsea is committed to a series of thematic enquiry that runs across all of the subject disciplines. 

Chelsea College of Arts is part of University of the Arts London (UAL) - Europe’s largest specialist art and design university. Its unique creative community is made up of six distinctive and distinguished Colleges: Camberwell College of Arts, Central Saint Martins, Chelsea College of Arts, London College of Communication, London College of Fashion and Wimbledon College of Arts. Renowned names in the cultural and creative sectors produced by the University include 12 Turner prize winners and over half of all nominees, 10 out of 17 fashion designers named British Designer of the Year, more than half of the designers showcased in London Fashion Week, 12 out of 30 winners of the Jerwood Photography Award and seven winners of the Prince Philip Designers Prize.

Resilience is a core theme for Chelsea College of Arts. Using art and design as a way of progressing social transformation in regions of the world that that have been severely affected by events outside of their control. Chelsea is committed to considering and designing positive solutions and engaging communities in creative cultural activities as a way of driving social evolution.


[1] “Japanese PM: ‘Toughest’ crisis since World War II”. CNN. 13 March 2011.Archived from the original on 12 April 2011.

[2] Japanese Embassy, safety and security information