Cairns Indigenous Art Fair delivers Queensland’s rich and vibrant First Peoples’ showcase to the world

CIAF-Mermaid-Scales-courtesy-of-Cairns-Regional-Council-Cultural-ServicesFocusing the digital spotlight on Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and cultures for 10 exciting days, Cairns Indigenous Art Fair’s (CIAF) 2021 program, replete with much-loved highlights and intimate insights, will be live and online from Wednesday 10 November to Friday 19 November 2021.

For the second year running, CIAF has placed the health and safety of Queensland’s artists, communities, and visitors first; transitioning its much-loved physical program to a digital platform in which the whole world can engage and enjoy.

From the official, SACRED Art Fair opening presentation with musical performances (filmed in the lush tropical surrounds of Kuranda Amphitheatre) from Brisbane’s Chris Tamwoy, known for his guitar-tap style, and Cairns emerging songstress Eisha Jade on Wednesday 10 November to the annual CIAF Art Awards and finale musical performances by Patrick Mau, Mau Power and The NightShift Cairns on Friday 19 November, there are almost 40, free events and activities delivered aboard the event’s online platform.

CIAF’s Artistic Director Janina Harding said 2021 had been the event’s most testing yet but she says the team has once again embraced the challenge to deliver a beautiful and diverse program encapsulating Queensland’s breadth of talent with a diverse range of cultural experiences.

Drawing from experience and the benefit of last year’s inaugural, virtual event program, entitled The Cultural Evolution, CIAF proved to the world its ability to transpose and integrate rich and diverse visual and performing arts, culture, and industry events into an engaging, online showcase. In effect, the mix of pre-recorded and live ‘content’ was accessed by more than 2.5 million people in almost 85 countries.

Covering vast distances across the Far North from Yarrabah and Mossman to Cooktown and Cape York, the communities of Wujal Wujal, Hopevale, Napranum, Aurukun, Pormpuraaw, Lockhart River and Kowanyama will be the focus of Community Spotlights, while the entire region and topical issues will be represented in a series of themed Conversations, Artist Profiles, Children’s Storytime, and Weaving Workshops.

Collectively, the Community content provides the program with a rich scaffold interspersed with the annual Symposium, Art Awards and online, e-commerce galleries showcasing the works comprising CIAF’s 2021 SACRED and Where’s Your Permit? themed exhibitions.

Replacing catwalk with Country in a way that ignites the voyeur’s imagination and demands attention, will be CIAF’s highly anticipated fashion performance, Of Spirit & Story on Friday 12 November. Viewers will be invited to immerse themselves in a journey through Tropical North Queensland’s diverse landscape, as designers present their collections encompassing stories, culture, history, and their own worldview through a fashion lens.

Curated in 2021 by Meriam artist Clinton Naina and choreographer, Hans Ahwang from Moa Island, this year’s iteration of Queensland’s First Nations’ fashion collections draws inspiration from CIAF’s 2021 theme, SACRED – an artistic response to Sacred Sites and Places of Significance.

Among the many program highlights are three events that cross over into the physical realm for a live, Cairns experience. These include *Queensland Theatre’s production of Shakespeare’s Othello at Bulmba-ja Arts Centre theatre between Friday 12 and Saturday 13 October, Music in the Park at Munro Martin Parklands (free music and cultural dance to enjoy live from 5.00pm to 10.00pm and online).

On Saturday 13 October and the premiere film screening of Alick & Albert at Events Cinemas in Cairns on Wednesday 17 November 2021. Added to this, Cairns Courthouse Gallery will form part of the ‘live’ program with its Mermaid ‘Zeloh’ from Akay Koo Oila (Aurukun) Women’s Art Centre exhibition, including official opening from 6.00pm on Wednesday 10 November.

CIAF Chair, Tom Mosby said he is proud to deliver another program online. “Our team at CIAF has once again proved its resilience in what has been an even more challenging year than last. Collectively, the organisation’s resourcefulness shines again in its commitment to showcasing the incredible talent of our artists and community,” said Mr Mosby.

The 2021 Cairns Indigenous Art Fair runs Wednesday 10 November to Friday 19 November. For more information and full program, visit: for details.

Image: Mermaid Scales – courtesy of Cairns Regional Council Cultural Services