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17 - 22 August 2021

CIAF 2020


The Cultural Evolution opens Friday 14 August!

In 2020 a new and interactive, digital festival platform will deliver CIAF to the world through a series of live stream presentations, performances, webinars, workshops, community spotlights, virtual gallery exhibitions and conversations.

And the whole world is invited! CIAF, The Cultural Evolution is a 10-day digital program of events from Friday 14 to Sunday 23 August 2020.

Opening Night

Friday 14 August 2020

Hosted by Elaine Crombie, this year’s opening celebration has been created for a digital format comprising a program of short presentations featuring Traditional Owners , Premier of Queensland, Governor of Queensland CIAF First Nations Patron, Cairns Mayor and CIAF Artistic Director, Janina Harding.  Followed by music performance by Merindi Schrieber & Natalia Mann and Zennith direct from Kuranda. 


CIAF Art Fair 2020

Virtual Gallery - Friday 14 August to Sunday 13 September 2020
A virtual showcase of 300 art works by Queensland First Peoples’ artists.  Navigate through the gallery online and explore independent artists, art centres, galleries and art co-operatives. Artworks are available to purchase through 2020.ciaf.com.au.

Undercurrents – Cook 2020 

Virtual Gallery - Friday 14 August to Sunday 13 September 2020
Open to the public - Sunday 12 July - Sunday 30 August, Tanks Arts Centre, Cairns. Open: 9.00am – 4.30pm Weekdays, 10.00am – 2.30pm Weekends

Undercurrents addresses the imbalance of (written) colonial history Vs First Peoples’ (oral) history, through a collection of paintings, works on paper, sculpture, photography, textile installations and screen. Artists survey the impact of Cook and what he represents to First Peoples of Queensland. Curated by Janina Harding and Hetti Perkins, with works from art centres, local independent artists and gallery represented artists,  the exhibition reveals the Blak resilience of sovereign nations.  Undercurrents is a platform for truth-telling, from an individual, family, community or First Peoples world view.

Artworks are available to purchase through 2020.ciaf.com.au.

Freshwater Saltwater – UMI Arts

This year UMI Arts’ celebrates it’s  15th anniversary with  the annual Freshwater Saltwater exhibition.  Curated by Trish Barnard, the exhibition showcases the work created by thirteen  Queensland First Peoples’ artists in response to the 2020 theme Boundless.  The works signify the artists’ spiritual and physical connection to country.  The exhibition is also open to the public at UMI Arts’ Jensen Plaza Gallery, Manunda (Cairns) until  8 September 2020.

Cure – Zane Saunders

Kuranda based Indigenous artist Zane Saunders has developed his latest performance installation work, Cure during a week-long residency at Bulmba-ja culminating in a live-stream video as part of Cairns Indigenous Art Fair’s digital program on Thursday 20 August 2020.

Cure uses the metaphor of a moral compass for the application of contextualised Indigenous knowledge symbolised by the 'Right' and 'Wrong' Rainbow formed in the shape of an arch. In so doing, two large-scale, engineered, sweeping mechanised arches form the installation that Saunders integrates during his performance.


Saturday 22 August 2020, 7pm - 8pm
Hosted by Elaine Crombie, Queensland’s Indigenous artists and art centres will be recognized among peers at this year’s fourth annual CIAF Art Awards.


Friday 14 August to Sunday 23 August 2020
A bumper cache of artists and  enterprises showcasing and selling art, craft and design works by Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and designers. Purchase art, craft and merchandise directly from the artists and entrepreneurs who create the work.


Water is Sacred

Friday 21 August 2020, 7pm - 8.30pm
Flipping the Fashion status quo as we move from the built environment to the natural environs of the reef and rainforest. Where Country is the catwalk, and collections ‘are inspired by the theme of Water, whilst delivering a Climate Change message. A narrative through sustainable fashion, wearable art/design and a fusion of Contemporary & Cultural Dance.


Story-time Sessions

Join Kuku Yalanji woman Merindi Schreiber, as she takes you on a journey through song.  CIAF invites children and parents to learn traditional language and the stories behind the songs.Kay & Noel Zaro share Meriam (Eastern Torres Strait Islands) culture, with language, songs and dance that have been passed down to Meriam children since time immemorial.


Streamed to you throughout the 10 days - Friday 14 to Sunday 23 August 2020

Music and Cultural Dance from Queensland Communities

A selection of Queensland performers and special guests that includes cultural dance teams and music performers from Cape York and Torres Strait as well Cairns.

Community Spotlights

A selection of interviews from the communities of Cairns, Cape York and Torres Strait Islands. Topics include impact of COVID19 on their community, climate change, culture and art.

CIAF Comedy

A favorite performer at CIAF’s past, Sean Choolburra will return to deliver a series of short comedy skits. Growing up in Townsville, Choolburra established himself as a professional dancer with the Bangarra Dance Company and his own Ngaru Dance Company before becoming one of Australia’s most versatile Aboriginal entertainers and comedians. 

Art Demonstrations

Video demonstrations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander traditional and contemporary weaving and wood carving designed to share stories, cultural knowledge and artistic practice.


CIAF Conversations – Indigenous Tourism

Monday 17 August 2020, 2pm – 3pm
Join proud Noonuccal Nuugi man Wesley Enoch, a Stage Writer/Director and current Sydney Festival Director  in conversation with an expert panel of Indigenous tourism operators and industry advocates as they discuss the vital role Indigenous cultures’ has on Australian tourism and the positive impact it can have for Indigenous communities and the visitor.

CIAF Conversations – Cook 2020

Wednesday 19 August 2020, 2pm – 3pm
Join proud Noonuccal Nuugi man Wesley Enoch, a Stage Writer/Director and current Sydney Festival Director in conversation with Indigenous artists and community story-tellers and they share their response to the 250 anniversary of Cook’s voyage around Australia.

CIAF Conversations - Indigenous Fashion

Friday 21 August 2020, 2pm – 3pm
Join proud Noonuccal Nuugi man Wesley Enoch, a Stage Writer/Director and current Sydney Festival Director in conversation with Indigenous fashion designers, artists and industry professionals on the sustainability of Indigenous fashion and design.

CIAF Symposium - Climate Change

Tuesday 18 August 2020, 2pm - 4pm
Hosted by Brenda L Croft from the Gurindji/Malngin/Mudburra peoples, art curator and Associate professor, Indigenous Art History & Curatorship at ANU. Speakers include Murrandoo Yanner, Alexis Wright, Gavin Singleton and Phillemon Mosby.

CIAF Closing Ceremony

Sunday 23 August 2020
The Traditional Owners of Cairns and CIAF Artistic Director will officially bring CIAF 2020 – The Cultural Evolution to a close after announcing the People’s Choice Art Award winner and afternoon showcase concert at Tanks Arts Centre. (Live stream)


*Program subject to change.







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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