Cultural Riches Shine
16 November 2016
As an arts movement, Far North Queensland Indigenous art is embryonic compared to the Northern Territory which has been recognised, supported and successfully operating for over 30 years.
The Queensland Government began its investment in Queensland Indigenous Arts, under the Backing Indigenous Arts program in 2007 and continues its investment and support of Indigenous artists from creation to marketplace. The art and culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' of Far North Queensland is unique, as it reflects the visual vibrancy and representation of freshwater, salt water, rain forest and island life.
The Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) emerged in 2009, through Arts Queensland and has been the platform for Queensland Indigenous artists to tell their stories, share their experiences and showcase their work. Particular art centres and artists are known to produce popular work, ie. the Aurukun dogs, Erub ghost net sculptures, Girringun bagus and fine Torres Strait lino-prints. The existing styles/mediums have become essential in providing that point of difference and identity to Far North Queensland.
CIAF is on an exciting journey. CIAF celebrated its seventh event in 2016 with an audience of 51,205 people. The event has grown with an amazing jump from 18,000 people in 2014 to 50,000 at CIAF 2015 & 2016. The massive increase in audience numbers ultimately transfers to a growing interest and understanding of Indigenous art and culture from the region, as a result of CIAF and its outcomes over the last six years.
In 2014, when CIAF transitioned from Arts Queensland to become its own entity as a Company, Limited by Guarantee and managed by a Board of Directors, it also matured to be much more than an art fair; it is a celebration of Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures with an energetic three day program of visual art, music, dance, artist talks, forums, workshops and children’s art activities. This unique format recognises the relationship between the visual and performing arts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and the fact that for both cultures, art and life are indistinguishable.
Leveraging on this success, CIAF's objective is to gain exposure for Queensland Indigenous artists through regional, state and national galleries and museums. CIAF attracts an increasing number of major national and international collectors and curators that continue to generate sales, commissions and worldwide exposure for this unique Indigenous art. By developing diverse artistic opportunities, like the CIAF Fashion performances, where ‘art meets fashion’ in wearable art, CIAF continues to explore new mediums and opportunities that empower artists and their communities.
Key to our success is the opportunity to build strong local and national relationships through partners, supporters and sponsors. Now with ACNC and DGR status CIAF hopes to attract philanthropists and donors who see the importance of CIAF - an event that seeks to create dialogue by creating opportunities for artists, by attracting a wider audience, by programming topical themes and placing Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture on a platform for the world to experience
The delightful attribute of CIAF is its single ability to embrace people from many cultures and provide a harmonious environment that resonates with goodwill and cultural integrity.
Written by Vanessa Gillen
CIAF General Manager