by Sarah Weir
Lynelle Flinders. Image: supplied
At TAFE Queensland’s Cairns campus, cultural art, advanced manufacturing and artificial intelligence collide to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students bring their creative designs to lifefor the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF).
Cultural Arts teacher and Dharrba Warra woman, Lynelle Flinders said a number of students will be participating in the fair’s exhibitions and fashion parade, with the event coinciding with NAIDOC Week (7 – 14 July).
“Art is very special to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as it allows us to tell our stories and to keep our culture alive,” Mrs Flinders said.
“Our cultural art students use a number of traditional mediums to express their cultural identity such as painting, drawing and printing,” she said.
In 2019, the NAIDOC Week theme is ‘Voice. Treaty. Truth. Let’s work together for a shared future’, a concept Mrs Flinders said her students embody.
“For CIAF, our students are collaborating with the Makerspace to create art work and body adornment using a laser cutter and 3D printers,” Ms Flinders said.
“It’s amazing the students can access this sort of technology as it allows them to expand their skill set and build upon their body of work,” she said.
The Makerspace, located at the TAFE Queensland Cairns campus, is spearheaded by Matt Ritchie and he’s guided by the ethos: dream it, design it, make it and pass those opportunities on.
“The Makerspace has cutting edge technology and resources, and it’s a hub for knowledge sharing, problem solving and inventing,” Mr Ritchie said.
“I’m excited to work with the cultural arts students to bring their designs to life using advanced manufacturing techniques.
“Some of the projects also incorporate generative design, so the students are working with artificial intelligence to bring their creations to life,” he said.
Some of the cultural art pieces being created in the Makerspace for CIAF include a Dhari dance and ceremonial headdress, a Warup, feathers and a traditional arm band.
The students create their own designs which are then uploaded to a computer and a machine in the Makerspace begins building the art uninterrupted by human needs like food and sleep – meaning it’s a great tool for tight deadlines.
Darnley Island community elder Kapua Gutchen is one of the TAFE Queensland students utilising the technology.
“I have designed a Warup, which is an instrument used in the Torres Strait Islands for marching and to sing dance songs, ceremonial songs and church hymns,” Mr Gutchen said.
“We Torres Strait Islanders call this drum Warup which derives from our language word 'Warwarr Upi' meaning that the tail end or back end of this instrument has beautiful patterns and it also has a carrying handle which is called 'Epi'.
“The Warup I have designed features diamond patterns and one of my totems, the sea turtle.”
Ms Flinders said it’s great that TAFE Queensland students get the opportunity to participate in CIAF.
“It’s an amazing event which brings together established and emerging artists, providing them with industry exposure and a platform to make connections with individuals and networks that they might otherwise not have had access to,” she said.
As part of CIAF, Ms Flinders will curate the Collective Memories exhibition in the Banggu Minjaany Art Gallery at the TAFE Queensland Cairns campus, as well as her own collection in the fashion parade.
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