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17 - 22 August 2021


Q&A with The CIAF Evolution Project Trainees

20 April 2021

Where are you from and who’s your mob?


Catherine: My maternal family ancestors are from Saibai, with links to Cape York. Our family moved to Mutee Head and Bamaga at the time of my Great-Great Grandfather. We also have PNG heritage through my Great-Great Grandfather. My clan group is Khodal (or crocodile) clan from Grandfather’s side, my Grandmother’s side shares the Emu totem.  

Ebony: My material lineage is linked to Western Cape York. Mbaiwum/Trotj through my Nana’s Father. Alngith/Liningithi through my Great-Grandmother’s Father and Wik Aplich though her Mother. On my Father’s side I’ve got connections to Brisbane and surrounding area’s through Yugarabul, Yarrawa, Wokka Wokka, Woolly Woolly, Yeman/Ima & Googarrie language speaking nations.

Luke: I was born and raised for most of my life in Cairns. I am a part of the Kunganji tribe from Yarrabah, and the Kuku-Yalanji tribe from Mossman area.


How long have you been interested in the arts industries and Indigenous art sector?


Catherine: I have always loved art from a young age, and I must thank my family for that I have family members that admire art and love drawing along with my great grandfather; he loved watercolour painting. I never had that chance to meet him, but my Great-Grandmother showed me some of this works and that also grew my love for watercolour painting. My old school gave me many opportunities to experience different aspects of how you can express certain feelings in your artwork.

Ebony: I was born into it as both my parents are artists and Indigenous, but it takes having personal creative bones to purposely get involved, out of personal interest and enjoyment.

Luke: I have been interested in the arts industry for as long as I can remember. When I was little, all I could think about was to be a musician playing the piano and the guitar on stage. Being brought up with Indigenous parents, I was able to learn how important culture is and how to express that. Growing up, I eventually had a passion to create music with Indigenous artists.


Are you a creative yourself, or do you have a more behind-the-scenes focus?’


Catherine: I do draw in my spare time; you can call it a hobby, I guess. It is either sketching in my sketch book or drawing on my computer. I have gotten into digital drawing since primary school, it is something that has really impacted me and my passion for art.

Ebony: I consider myself a creative, but I also enjoy giving my creativity a spell & doing office work or helping out behind the scenes also.

Luke: I make music in my spare time using different instruments, programs and devices. I have some experience in the behind-the-scenes of the creative industry, but I want to be able to put my focus on the creative side of things.


What inspired you to become involved in Indigenous art?


Catherine: The thing that inspired me, or that sparked my interest in Indigenous art, would have to be the culture itself. For someone like me that doesn’t know much about my own Indigenous culture, I’ve always loved hearing about stories from my Grandmother and how things were like back then and how artists can interpret what happened back in those days. It’s hard talking about those things but I think it’s good for this generation and forward generations to look at the artwork, to either to think at how grateful we are, or to get inspired to make a difference with every step.

Ebony: Art is a wonderful empowering thing. Joining CIAF is a way of keeping engaged with community, learning & working in a space that keeps my genuinely interest and motivated. The way it makes me feel and the way peoples’ self-expression makes way for insight is what inspired me to get involved.

Luke: Growing up surrounded with all types of Indigenous art, from music to paintings to dances, I naturally found myself constantly being involved in Indigenous art. I grew a deep love for my culture and the arts within my culture. Being an Indigenous person, I feel a connection with the art as my ancestors had been doing art over 60,000 years.


What does being part of the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair mean to you and your career?


Catherine: Being part of this program feels like a dream and to me it feels like such a rare opportunity to gain the experience along with the knowledge of how everyone work/operates during the upcoming events. I hope to take this knowledge with me for future career either in this kind of industry or to hopefully start my own if I do later in the future.

Ebony: Being exposed to creative processes in the workforce through my up bringing has made me grow to want to be part of it. Joining such a supportive, unique team like CIAF is an exciting door to a new career path. I look forward to building upon [this experience] in a field that’s rewarding to myself, the communities we work for and the public.

Luke: The morals and beliefs that CIAF have really intertwine with my personal morals and beliefs. I enjoy working alongside people who want the best for the Indigenous artists of this land. As for my career, I feel as though CIAF will help me develop a deeper understanding of the Events Industry. Being able to understand the behind-the-scenes of shows and festivals will be beneficial for me, as I would love to pursue my music career. Simply just having the knowledge will give me a boost in the industry.


Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?


Catherine: Where do I see myself in 5-10 years? It is still a question I ask myself today because I’m still trying to figure that out, but I would love to see myself with my own business or helping outer communities to sell artworks and hearing about their culture. 

Ebony: I love the flow that I’ve only experienced in creative workspaces, it keeps me interested & motivated. Because of this I hope to be working in the arts, but I also envision that I would have established my own profile as an artist & be selling & exhibiting my own works.

Luke: In 5 years, I see myself creating music for Indigenous artists within the local area of Cairns. In 10 years, I want to be able to own a small business where I can sell music to artists all over Australia, maybe even the world.



Catherine, Ebony and Luke visiting the Cairns Art Gallery

Actor Aaron Fa'aoso meeting with the CIAF Evolution Project trainees

Catherine, Ebony and Luke visiting the Cairns Art Gallery
Actor Aaron Fa'aoso meeting with the CIAF Evolution Project trainees


Cairns Indigenous Art Fair Ltd is a not-for-profit company with Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) and Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission (ACNC) Status. All donations to the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) are greatly appreciated and will contribute to CIAF operational costs. Your support assists CIAF in continuing to attract and nurture national and international recognition for the appreciation of the vital cultural contribution of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

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