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Queensland's best Indigenous artists determined by artistic response to culture of language and storytelling

Queensland's best Indigenous artists determined by artistic response to culture of language and storytelling

12 Jul 2019

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Friday 12 July, 2018. Some of Queensland’s outstanding Indigenous artists and organisations were recognised among peers at Cairns Indigenous Art Fair’s opening party held last night.

CIAF’s artistic director, Janina Harding said CIAF’s award recipients were decided this week by an esteemed judging panel comprising Liz Ann Macgregor, Director of Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Nici Cumpston, Curator Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, Art Gallery of South Australia and Teho Ropeyarn, Curator, Cairns Art Gallery.

The judges were overwhelmed by the quality and diversity of the art at CIAF and faced a difficult decision in selecting tonight’s winners.

All artists were asked to respond to this year’s theme of My Yarn Now within the curated Art Fair exhibition.

Speaking at last night’s official opening, Deputy Premier Jackie Trad announced the winner of the Queensland Government’s prestigious Premier’s Award for Excellence is Torres Strait Islander artist, Janet Fieldhouse who will receive $15,000 to support the continued development of her art practice.

“The Queensland Government is proud to again sponsor the Premier’s Award for Excellence at the annual Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) Awards,” Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said.

“The Premier’s Award recognises the most outstanding work at the fair and I congratulate the 2019 winner Janet Fieldhouse on her thoughtful response to this year’s theme – My Yarn Now.

“Considering our past, our present and the place for tradition and storytelling in our future, My Yarn Now is an extraordinary exhibition worthy of CIAF’s tenth anniversary year.”  

This year’s Awards’ judging panel remarked on Ms Fieldhouse’s references to history and tradition in the content and use of materials brought into a contemporary framework.

Fieldhouse’s collection of sculptural pieces combining ceramics and weaving reference traditional tools for tattooing and body scarification.  The collection is exhibited by Vivien Anderson Gallery and is now on show at Cairns Indigenous Art Fair.

According to Fieldhouse, her work is an expression of her Torres Strait Islander heritage – the material culture, rituals of social and religious life and artefacts which are created to fulfil the functional and spiritual needs of the people of the Torres Strait.

Winner of the Art Centre Award is HopeVale Arts & Cultural Centre for a collection of 40 paintings which the judges said provide an engaging overview of life in the community – from nature to human interaction.

The judging panel praised the winner of this year’s Innovation Award for being both amazing and outstanding. Girringun Aboriginal Art Centre’s installation of ochre paintings on canvas was commended as amazing and for providing the ‘wow’ moment of their judging assignment. 

“This is an ambitious and unusual artwork that is as bold as it is brave.  It is out of this world.  A full immersion in country.”

CIAF’s 2019 winner of the 3D Design & Sculpture category, a new award, was presented to Pormpuraaw artist, Syd Bruce Shortjoe for Tiger Prawn 2019 which from its position overhanging the verandah is both striking and according to the judges, a well-resolved example of ghostnet artwork and embellishment using found materials.

Finally, the winner of the Emerging category is Tamika Grant-Iramu from Onespace Gallery in Brisbane for her printmaking entitled Carving memories: propagation by roots 2019.

Born and raised in Brisbane, Tamika graduated from the Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2017 majoring in interdisciplinary Print Media.  With a focus on Torres Strait Islander printmaking techniques and storytelling aesthetics revealing a distinct connection to her Torres Strait Islander heritage, she continues to build her body of work.

CIAF Art Awards 2019 category winners are:

Premier’s Award for Excellence sponsored by Queensland Government ($15,000)

Janet Fieldhouse, Vivien Anderson Gallery

Cairns Regional Council’s Art Centre Award ($10,000)

HopeVale Arts & Cultural Centre

Cairns Airport’s Innovation Award ($10,000)

Girringun Aboriginal Art Centre

Ports North’s 3D & Sculpture Award ($5000); this is a new award category in 2019

Syd Bruce Shortjoe, Pormpuraaw Arts & Cultural Centre for Tiger Prawn 2019 ghostnet sculpture

Westpac Emerging Artist Award ($5000)

Tamika Grant-Iramu, Onespace Gallery for Carving memories: propagation by roots 2019

Peoples’ Choice Award sponsored by Gillian Mailman Group of Companies ($5000); winning artist will be awarded at closing ceremony

Visitors to CIAF between today and Sunday afternoon will determine the final category winner in the Gillian Mailman Group of Companies ($5000 prize) Peoples’ Choice Award in honour of Waal Waal Ngallametta, announced at the event’s closing ceremony by naming sponsor representative and CIAF board member, Gillian Mailman.

While guests enjoying tonight’s opening party and sneak preview of the exhibition, the Art Fair officially opens to the general public from 9 am tomorrow, Friday 12 July, until the event closes on Sunday 14 July.

My Yarn Now is on show in Shed 3 of the Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal and can be viewed from 9am.  Entry is free.