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CIAF On-Country series now complete

[by Pip Miller]


 Image: supplied

The Cairns Indigenous Art Fair’s (CIAF) whistle-stop tour of Tropical North Queensland’s Indigenous art centres has concluded with a visit by key staff and supporters to Mossman Gorge (Yalanji Arts), Wujal Wujal (Bana Yirriji Art Centre), Hopevale and Starcke National Park (Yungee Bush Camp).


Including an earlier trip to Yarrabah Arts & Cultural Precinct the tour series, aimed at promoting stakeholder engagement, team building, and on-Country experiences, is the first of its kind undertaken in CIAF’s 13-year history.


“While it was the first time the CIAF team has toured on-Country, it won’t be the last.  We aim to do more with plans to visit as many Tropical North Queensland-based art centres as possible before our event next year,” said CIAF’s Marketing and Communications Manager, Jack Wilkie-Jans.

“CIAF is committed to not only growing an ethical marketplace and culturally rich showcase opportunities for Indigenous artists of Queensland, we are also committed to meeting artists on their Country, hearing about their practices, learning about their culture and perspectives on the world as well as their ideas and thoughts on future CIAF events,” Mr Wilkie-Jans said.


CIAF staff participating in the latest tour include Jaivan Bowen (Productions Manager), Jack Wilkie-Jans (Marketing & Communications Manager), Wanda Weatherall (Office Manager), Luke Schrieber (Productions Assistant) and Allira Hollingsworth (CIAF Evolution Project II Trainee) were joined by Virginia Kruger (academic and long-time CIAF supporter, representing Creative Victoria).


Together, the group visited and met with artists and art centre managers from Yalanji Arts and Banna Yirriji Art Centre culminating in an immersive on-Country stay at Yungee Bush Camp, managed by Aunty Estelle Bowen of Hopevale, where the team were taken out and taught about key sites and bush tucker and medicines in and around the Starcke National Park sub-region.


“It’s important that we get out on Country as often as possible, so that we remember what our sector is ultimately all about: Presentation and preservation of culture. We were so lucky and are so grateful to Aunty Estelle and all the artists we met and communities we visited. To have been welcomed onto the sovereign, tribal lands of so many corners of the southern eastern cape of Cape York Peninsula and Wet Tropics region was extremely special and humbling,” he said.


Mr Wilkie-Jans also commented that hearing artists stories while visiting their land brings a new level of appreciation and understanding of the artworks being produced for showcase at CIAF in Gimuy (Cairns).


“These engagements confirm for our team, the responsibility CIAF has to unearth the best future possible for the sustainability of Queensland’s Indigenous artists’ careers.”


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