photo-icon Amabouz Taturo

Tatzu Nishi's 'A Doll's House' expands imaginations

Cultural Heart

Tatzu Nishi, the artist behind the life-sized doll's house in Rundle Mall, shares what inspired this unique piece of public art and his hopes for igniting Adelaide's imagination.

For even more insights into the story behind 'A Doll's House' listen to the audio recording of the special in-conversation held at the City Library in early March - where Gill Minervini discussed the work of Tatzu Nishi, with the artist himself and the Australian philanthropist, John Kaldor.

A Doll's House is three stories of immersive art in the heart of Rundle Mall for you to explore for free - a gift to the people of Adelaide from the Adelaide Festival to celebrate its 60th birthday, presented in partnership with the City of Adelaide. 

Since opening its very cute front door on Friday 28 February it's been thrilling city visitors from near and far - and will keep doing so until Sunday 15 March.

What visitors are saying

“I never got a doll's house as a kid, but I always wanted one. I actually saw this exhibition in Paris in 2018, but we didn't have an opportunity to go in so, it was really nice and I was really surprised, when it sort of ‘popped up’ in Adelaide. I think it's just really quite whimsical.”
Ying, 31 – Pooraka

“We just loved it. It was so amazing. She (daughter) loved every level and sitting down on the little chairs. It made me feel like a young little one again.”
Sophia, 46 and Georgiana, one - Auldana

“It's cute. I think it's a really good pop-up, definitely, and the weather's great, so it's good that we could come in here and just walk through, do a bit of shopping and then come in and have a look at the art, which is great.”
Stephanie, 25 – visiting from Melbourne with her sister

“I just thought it was wonderful. I felt quite nostalgic for my childhood. It’s a great experience .. there should be more of it!”
Kayleen, 77 - Adelaide CBD

She thinks it's like a big Barbie house!”
Ute, 60, with Sabrina, four - Noarlunga

Tatzu Nishi is a Japanese artist who has been transforming public spaces in jaw-dropping ways across the world since 2000 and answered a few questions to shine some light on what inspired this unique piece of art.

Dolls houses are nostalgic for many people; what memories and influences did you draw inspiration from when creating this art?

I never played with a doll house when I was little, but I loved to draw my own room and imaginary homes. I even drafted plans of that as a child. I have lived in a world of art for 23 years since my debut as an artist. In 2018, at the exhibition “Childhood” in Paris, I decided to throw away all the techniques I learnt as an artist, and I envisioned art using child-like concepts. 

I have chosen my favourite shapes, colours, interior and furniture and so on without thinking like an experienced artist, more so like an innocent child. It was challenging for me as I have been an artist for a long time, but it was an interesting task to test myself. A Doll’s House in Adelaide has stronger sense of art than A Doll’s House in Paris, which has more of a child-like innocence.

Tatzu nishi in a dollls house credit tony lewis
photo-icon Tony Lewis

tatzu nishi inside a doll's house in rundle mall.

When you were creating A Doll’s House, who were you imagining the visitors would be?

For A Doll’s House in Paris, the exhibition was at a famous art museum, so I expected an audience made up of art fans and patrons of the arts. Therefore, I have created A Doll’s House in a way that seems less like artwork. It was a question for myself and also a question to visitors - what is art? A Doll’s house in Adelaide will be exhibited as a part of Adelaide Festival, which is a fantastic cultural event. And I expected most of audience to be members of the general public. It will be the best location to exhibit this artwork that was created for an audience who are not generally involved in the art world.

watch tatzu nishi's 'a doll's house' come to life in rundle mall with this awesome time lapse video thanks to adelaide festival.

How do you hope that the people of Adelaide will be affected by your work?

I believe that the purpose of art is “to expand the imagination” for humankind. When you see or experience something new, your imagination is stimulated, and it will be a trigger to expand your imagination.

When you make decisions where you are heading, you need to rely on your own imagination that you have cultivated for a long time. Ultimately, you will make decisions based on your characteristic, favour, ability, economics of your country, and world trends. 

Dolls house interior

How do you think the location of the house changes its meaning and the experience for the visitor?

A Doll's House in Adelaide will be installed in at a very busy shopping street. Therefore, people who will come for shopping will encounter A Doll's House coincidentally. General people who are not so interested in art will be surprised by the building appearing all of a sudden. Then, that will be the start of, what I call, "expansion of imagination".

They will gather all their imagination to try to figure out "what is it?" It is not like a situation that you are looking at an "Art Work" in art galleries. The audience get stimulated more so at the outdoor exhibition as the art work appear right in front of them unexpectedly.

The greater your imagination the less likely you are to make poor or limited decisions in your life. For that reason, the opportunities “to expand imagination” need to exist fairly for everyone, like air and human rights. Therefore, cultural events, like the Adelaide Festival attended by the general public, are wonderful.
Tatzu Nishi, A Doll's House artist

A Doll’s House welcomes everyone for free, what role do you think public art plays in a city’s cultural landscape?

As I mentioned earlier, I hope to provide opportunities for people “to expand imagination”. In that sense, public art is the best way to exhibit as it is available to everyone for free. Architecture may not be considered artwork but is an art form, which exists semi-permanently as a most important and familiar influence “to expand imagination”. I hope for the world to provide more opportunities for the general public to experience performing arts, music, and movies, not only formative art such as sculptures or paintings, perhaps in casual outdoor settings, and ideally for free.

Article by

Georgie Smith

Georgie Smith

Maker and curator of things

Georgie has been BFFs with Adelaide her whole life. They’ve shared many special moments: over cheese platters at art exhibitions, cycling through the park lands and immersed in sequin-clad theatre shows.