Artists celebrate 10th anniversary of Cairns Indigenous Art Fair

The Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) has kicked-off with fireworks and festivities, marking the 10th anniversary of the country’s leading First Nations festival that showcases the arts and culture of Australia’s first peoples.

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said the Palaszczuk Government – through the Backing Indigenous Arts initiative – had been a proud supporter of the event since its inception and was investing more than $800,000 this year to ensure its continuing success.

“Over the past decade, CIAF has attracted more than 280,000 visitors, welcomed 1800 First Nations artists and contributed more than $22 million to the Queensland economy,” Ms Trad said.

“t has also been a launchpad for artists to sell their work, with more than $6.8 million being generated in sales by local and international buyers including the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Canada and the Harvard University Art Museum.

“The theme of this year’s fair My Yarn Now will provide a platform to more than 600 Indigenous visual and performing artists to share their lived experiences.”

Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch said the expanded, five-day CIAF program provided an opportunity for local, interstate and international guests to explore Queensland’s rich artistic legacy.

“CIAF has played a key role in the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to providing arts and culture experiences that are unique to Queensland,” Minister Enoch said.

“Australia is home to the longest continuous living cultures in the world, and CIAF helps showcase this.

“Over the next few days, visitors will be immersed in art and cultural experiences that tell important stories and will help nurture a greater understanding of the First Nations peoples, place and culture.

“CIAF has significantly evolved over these past 10 years – from starting out as Australia’s first arts market featuring works of Queensland First Nations peoples, to now include a comprehensive program of performing arts and cultural experiences.”

Highlights of the 2019 program include the feature exhibition Queen’s Land – Blak Portraiture at the Cairns Art Gallery, the CIAF fashion performance Buwal-barra…Messenger. Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow. and Thancoupie Tribute – A Legacy of Cultural Power, a retrospective at Tank Arts Centre honouring the life and work of CIAF founding Patron Thancoupie Gloria Fletcher AO.

CIAF Artistic Director, Janina Harding, said guests could also look forward to Cultural Heights – A Legacy of Traditional Language and Song – a celebration of the Indigenous languages of Far North Queensland, staged to coincide with the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages.

“Cultural Heights audiences will be captivated by the exceptional talent of the Bama, Mer Ira Watai and Kulkalgal choirs and those lucky to have a ticket, will witness a show that has never ever been performed elsewhere in the world before,” Ms Harding said.

“We’ll have around 80 singers and musicians sharing the Cairns Performing Arts Centre (CPAC) stage in all their colour, movement and soaring sounds of brilliance.”

The Cairns Indigenous Art Fair runs from 10 to 14 July 2019, with free and ticketed events held at venues throughout Cairns.

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