Cairns Indigenous Art Fair

The Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) returns for its fourteenth season this year with a new theme: 'Weaving our Future: Claiming Our Sovereignty'. The Art Fair is well known for creating an ethical market for visitors to experience, celebrate, and purchase works by Queensland Indigenous Australian and Torres Strait Islander artists. An important annual art and cultural trek, his year’s CIAF boasts the most expansive program to date.

Artistic director, Francoise Lane, is an artist and designer herself whose practice spans textile design, visual, sculpture, and surface pattern art. Lane, in her second year as Artistic Director, saw a record attendance and sales in 2022 and says she looks forward to the continued success and demand for First Nations Art in Queensland. The selection of this year’s theme, Weaving our Future: Claiming Our Sovereignty, has been styled to capture the political and social sentiment of the time. Lane stated “Art is a powerful platform to raise the breadth of experiences, issues, and commentary on cultural, social and political subjects from First Nations peoples. It can present compelling contemporary perspectives that are provocative, emotive and raise the conscience of the broader society. We are living in a time where the collective voices of First Nations peoples are being positioned to drive change across our state and nation.”

Over the course of the fair, 13-16 July, visitors can expect a dynamic program – with several exhibitions featuring multidisciplinary artists, fashion shows, the Art Fair and Market, dance workshops, musical performances, and weaving masterclasses. CIAF will showcase 600 of Queensland’s most accomplished and collectible artists.

Exhibitions to look out for include SOVEREIGNTY, curated by Jamaylya Ballangarry-Kearins. Ballangarry-Kearins invited four female artists, Nicole Enoch-Chattfield, Sheila Brimm, Sheree Jacobs, and Susan Reyes, to respond to the CIAF’s theme; specifically encouraging their perspectives sovereignty through self-determination.

Kim Ah Sam’s exhibition Woven Identity “it’s not only me,” reveals the story of the how the artist felt disconnected from Country. Ah Sam’s woven exhibition reflects the experience of many First Nation’s people and is an intimate glimpse into her healing process and reconnection to Country.

Moa Arts have invited Northsite curator Aven Noah Jr. to curate Malu Bardthar Dapar | Sea Land Sky, featuring many artists including Babetha Nawia, Danie Savage, David Bosun, Eldrina Waaria, Fiona Mosby, Fred Joe, Loretta Glanville, Paula Savage, Rota Kaitap, Soloman Booth, Tahmana Misik, and Gertie Tomsana. This exhibition. is exploring the political and sociological storytelling of Torres Strait culture by young and senior artists.

CIAF 2023 also celebrates the tenth anniversary of the CIAF fashion performance, an interdisciplinary vision of curator Lynelle Flinders and choreographic duo Siblings Mykelle and Jaydn Bingarape. Flinders Woven is an artistic celebration of Queensland’s First Nations knowledge interwoven into wearable art. Whereas Mykelle and Jaydn Bingarape are responding to Lane’s Weaving our Future: Claiming Our Sovereignty to energise the creative and innovative talent of the designers, models, and performers. Designed to “move and engage” audiences, the collection of fifteen designers has strong references to Country, connection, lores, and practices.  

Flinders has been working with CIAF fashion performance since 2014. Her fashion label Sown in Time kicked-off in 2018. In 2021 she was on the runway of Australia Fashion week at Carriageworks, Sydney. A mentor to many First Nations designers and artisans.   

Mykelle and Bingarape have worked with London’s Royal Ballet, the Australian Ballet and the Queensland Ballet. They are also alumni of Cairns-based Miriki Performing Arts, a dance company focussed on the five pillars of Aboriginal society – family and ceremony, connection to Country, connection to one another, laws, practices, and language.

In between the exhibitions and fashion shows, be sure to visit CIAF’s Art Market and Art Fair at the Cairns Convention Centre. With stalls by galleries, individuals, emerging, mid-career, and established First Nation artists, all are showcasing and/or selling arts, crafts, jewellery, and more.

With a diverse and enriched program this year’s Cairns Indigenous Art Fair is set to be a great success.

Cairns Indigenous Art Fair 
13 – 16 July, 2023
Cairns Convention Centre + Various Locations, Queensland

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