Masters of Country to inspire artistic riches

Embracing the cultural and artistic riches of Queensland’s First Peoples in a style befitting its highly anticipated, physical return from Wednesday 6 to Sunday 10 July, Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) unveiled its 2022 program of events today.

In presenting Australia’s premier Art Fair and quintessential showcase of Queensland’s two very distinct and diverse Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, CIAF 2022 will feature the work of approximately 300 visual artists and 150 performers across a mostly free, and multi-arts program showcased within the newly refurbished Cairns Convention Centre and satellite hubs.

Proving its tenacious spirit and resilience following two pandemic years, in which the focus was on sustainability and survival through online programming, CIAF is ready to welcome its artists, visitors, and community back to Cairns in what is considered a joyous coming together of artists, visitors, friends, and community.

Prior to CIAF’s momentous return in July, Artistic Director Janina Harding pauses to reflect as she prepares to deliver her eighth and final season at the creative helm.

“The last two years have proved both challenging and rewarding but today, the excitement is real with our 13th anniversary sparking renewal and growth beginning with a much larger and spacious new hub within the award-winning and impressive surrounds of Cairns Convention Centre.

“Within this new and dynamic event space we can display more artwork and welcome a greater number of visitors to enjoy a myriad of activities under one giant roof that include the symposium, opening night party, Art Fair exhibition and Art Market, program of live music, cultural dance, workshops, conversations, and more,” Ms Harding said.

Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch said CIAF 2022 celebrates First Nations cultures, stories, art, and artists from across Queensland.

“The Queensland Government has supported the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair since its inception, and it is a great pleasure to see this event move beyond the impact of COVID-19 welcoming visitors and the community in coming together,” Minister Enoch said.

“CIAF serves an important role in building distribution, expanding market reach, and growing Queensland’s reputation for diverse First Nations arts and cultural experiences.

“Highlights in 2022 include the Big Sculpture Showcase featuring 187 large scale works that have been realised through the investment of $200,000 as part of the Queensland Government’s $22.5 million Arts and Cultural Recovery Package to commission innovative projects that drive cultural and economic outcomes.

“CIAF is helping to deliver the key priorities of the Queensland Government’s Creative Together 10-Year Roadmap to share our stories, celebrate storytellers and elevate First Nations arts,” Ms Enoch said.

Capping off a series of related themes that talk to Country through a focus on sacred sites, water preservation and climate change and the continuation of intergenerational and cultural storytelling, 2022 theme, Masters of Country, underpins the artistic response connecting CIAF’s Symposium, Art Fair, new Big Sculpture Showcase commissioning project and Fashion Performance.

“Our knowledge keepers are our professors, and our Country is our campus” she said.

“Queensland’s First Peoples have an innate connection with Indigenous plants and trees. We were born into the oldest living culture in the world. It is no wonder that we have a distinct knowledge regarding the use of plants and trees from our homeland. We have always had and always will have experts on plant knowledge, so that in today’s terms our people are botanists, doctors, nurses, chefs, nutritionists, gardeners, architects, builders, pharmacists, arborists, physicists, and horticulturists.

“Queensland First Peoples also have oral stories, and lived experience derived from the many trees on Country. We have birthing trees for childbirth, scarred trees for watercraft, utensils, and weapons, tree markers for significant or sacred sites, knot trees for directional signposts on Country and carving to tell our cultural stories. Trees are our history books and a testament of our resourcefulness,” she said.

Tickets are on sale from Friday 3 June 2022, so visit the CIAF website.

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