Storytelling theme resonates with visitors to Queensland’s arts and cultural celebration of its First Peoples
People spoke with their feet this week with sold out events throughout the city’s artistic and cultural hubs and huge numbers throughout the Art Fair and Market for Cairns Indigenous Art Fair’s 10th anniversary.
After five days of art, music, dance, fashion, comedy, workshops, storytelling, special events and more, Cairns Indigenous Art Fair’s (CIAF) wrapped up its 10th program yesterday with a convergence of cultural dance troupes performing for visitors in the gardens of Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal and the announcement of this year’s People’s Choice Award.
Rounding out CIAF’s $50,000 awards cache, Torres Strait Islander artist, Daniel O’Shane, Canopy Arts, won the people’s vote and a prize of $5000 for artwork entitled Meuram and Zogo Ni Pat (vinyl cut, hand-wiped) sponsored and presented by Gillian Mailman, the Gillian Mailman Group of Companies. This is the second time in the three-year history of the awards that Mr O’Shane’s artwork has resonated with the public, securing the same award in 2017.
In keeping with the UN’s International Year of Traditional Language, intergenerational storytelling, Indigenous language and culture were key themes of this year’s iteration.
CIAF Artistic Director, Janina Harding said among all the events in this year’s program, she cited the Symposium, Buwal-barra…Messenger. Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow. fashion performance and Cultural Heights – A legacy of traditional language and song – as memorable highlights.
According to Ms Harding, it was the Symposium that really took her by surprise in terms of successes.
“The day went really well, we had great speakers and both interesting and insightful exchanges with delegates exploring the nuances and complexities of Queensland’s Indigenous art movement.
“What we have here in Queensland is so distinct in terms of diversity, spanning both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, is really very exciting with lots of new work coming through.
“I can confidently say that our Art Fair was the best ever and with exhibitors like Naomi Hobson literally selling every piece of artwork on her stand on opening night – well, you don’t get much better than that,” Ms Harding said.
Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) General Manager Vanessa Gillen said in terms of numbers and sales, this year’s event ticked every box.
“While measurable outcomes are testament to the success of any event, CIAF is a dynamic platform that provides so much more in terms of cultural recognition and pathway opportunities for both emerging and established artists. Friday’s joint announcement with Cairns Airport to launch a five-year commissioning project for Queensland’s Indigenous artists is a prime example.
“What CIAF is also committed to and in my opinion, does really well, is bring people together - whether its community catching up or visitors taking time to meet the artists and performers and share stories,” Ms Gillen said.
For Ms Gillen, there were many highpoints over the weekend including the popularity of Friday night’s Blak Comedy at Tanks Arts Centre that was packaged to festival-goers as a double bill with the fashion.
“Friday’s atmosphere at Tanks was electric, what with the Thancoupie opening, fashion, the Embrace light projections and the comedy, its success as a satellite hub will be something that is definitely considered when programming next year,” Ms Gillen said.
Total attendance figures and art sales will be issued to media this week.
CIAF will return again in 2020, Wednesday 8 to Sunday 12 July.