Cairns Indigenous Art Fair 2017

Cairns Indigenous Art Fair Fashion PerformanceCairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) will transform the city of Cairns with its multi-faceted, all-inclusive celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture between Thursday 13 July and Sunday 16 July 2017.

The eighth annual event will celebrate the official opening with a music, dance and art spectacular beneath the stars and within the heritage-listed surrounds of Shed 3 at Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal. This social gathering signals the start of a multi-dimensional program exhibiting the rich culture and vast artistic talent, spanning visual and performing arts, of Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

From a visual art perspective, CIAF’s curated art exhibition will be an artistic response to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander notion of family. Themed, Family Values, the exhibited works will be selected by renowned Indigenous curator and writer, Hetti Perkins and CIAF’s Artistic Director, Janina Harding.

An exciting artistic collaboration to be introduced this year will be a commissioning project spearheaded by the National Gallery of Victoria that will see Torres Strait Islander artists create traditional dance machines that will be on show and for sale at CIAF. Islander dance is a major form of creative and competitive expression.

Dance machines are hand-held mechanical moving objects – ‘clappers’ and headdresses vividly enhance Torres Strait Islander dance performances with colour, movement and sound while representing striking representations of land, water, and celestial environments.

For the past four years, CIAF has embraced Indigenous textile and fashion design with a special fashion performance curated by Grace Lillian Lee and choreographed by Fiona Wirrer-George which is considered to be world-class – the calibre of which secured it a position in the 2016 program of coveted Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival.

In 2017 the CIAF fashion offering will be further enhanced in the new and atmospheric surroundings of Tanks Arts Centre and its former World War 2 fuel tanks. CIAF’s fashion performances will be held on Friday 14 July, with an expanded program of 2 ticketed shows to accommodate the growing audience demand.

A second, highly anticipated and major exhibition will be presented by CIAF in conjunction with Cairns Regional Gallery, featuring the works of one of Australia’s most exciting contemporary artists, Daniel Boyd who has close family ties to Cairns and Yarrabah.

Rounding out the artistic element, a third CIAF exhibition will be on show at Tanks Arts Centre. Following on from last year’s successful prison art exhibition, CIAF’s Janina Harding will once again join with Tanks Arts Centre’s Chris Stannard to curate photographic works by Queensland’s young and emerging artists based in Woorabinda and Cairns.

CIAF’s special theatre inclusion in this year’s program is a new work currently in development focussing on the life of, and featuring, Torres Strait Islander stage and screen actor, Jimi Bani.  My Name is Jimi will have its world premiere at CIAF in the JUTE Theatre of Cairns Centre of Contemporary Arts.

The popular CIAF Conversations will continue in 2017 and once again include a variety of opportunities for visitors to listen to and chat with popular Indigenous artists and their life and practice, while the Art Market will feature more than 50 exhibitors will sell everything from handmade garments to pottery, jewellery and paintings.

In conjunction with Umbrella Studios Contemporary Arts, Townsville based artist, Gail Mabo will celebrate 25 years of Mabo (historic land rights decision handed down by High Court of Australia) with a unique and special exhibition that comprises a range of hand crafted, cultural artworks linked to Torres Strait Islander tradition and in particular, navigation.

This exhibition is inspired by the Koiki star, her father Eddie Koiki Mabo was gifted two years ago by the Sydney Observatory. It was the first star ever named after a person and forms part of the Southern Cross Constellation and Tagai which in Islander culture is the creation deity represented by a constellation of stars that span across the southern sky.

CIAF’s Artistic Director, Janina Harding said 2016 was a watershed year for CIAF and one which defined its own ‘sense of place’ when compared to other Australian Indigenous art fairs and events. “There is nothing else like CIAF. It is completely distinct, ever-evolving, inclusive and immersive,” said Harding.

“What many people, especially interstate and overseas visitors don’t understand, is that most of Queensland’s Indigenous artists live and work in very isolated communities of Cape York and the Torres Strait. What CIAF does through its connections with some 13 art centres, is bring everyone together for the benefit of people who would otherwise not be able to experience the cultures.”

“From spectacular art on show to the cultural and contemporary music and dance to CIAF’s signature fashion performance, theatre production and knowledge sharing, CIAF is successful in that it really does offer something for everyone and a truly joyful celebration.”

Since its inception in 2009, CIAF has welcomed 185,000 people to its various events, featured 1,300 artists and generated more than $5 million in art sales for Queensland’s Indigenous artists. In 2016 CIAF received the ultimate endorsement of its value and appeal with a record attendance of 51,000 people who visited the Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal and other satellite venues.

The 2017 Cairns Indigenous Art Fair runs 13 – 16 July. For more information and complete program, visit: for details.

Image: Cairns Indigenous Art Fair Fashion Performance (supplied)