An always vibrant celebration of First Nations art and culture, this year the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF), are bringing their highly-revered annual festival of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists direct to our homes and screens.
The CIAF ethical art market place attracts thousands of national and international collectors and curators each year, helping to provide cultural exchange and understanding, economic opportunity and career pathways for emerging and established visual and performance artists.
DESIGNER: Bana Yirriji Art Centre, Wujal Wujal Collection PHOTOGRAPHY: (TOP) Colyn Huber/Lovegreen Photography (BELOW) Cristina Bevilacqua
Starting this Friday 14 August, this year the event will see a series of presentations, performances, webinars, workshops, community spotlights, conversations and virtual gallery exhibitions roll out online over ten days.
“From the outset of pandemic restrictions, CIAF as an organisation was asking what it could do to continue supporting artists and communities who have come to rely on the event,” CIAF’s Artistic Director Janina Harding said. “For Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, CIAF plays an integral role in cultural sharing, understanding and in particular, artists’ social, emotional and economic welfare.”
DESIGNER: Simone Arnol & Djunngaal Elders Yarrabah PHOTOGRAPHY: Colyn Huber/Lovegreen Photography
MODEL: Ebony Doyle DESIGNER: Mylene Hower’s Ghost Net Headress, Pormpuuraw Arts and Cultural Centre PHOTOGRAPHY: Colyn Huber/Lovegreen Photography
“After making the decision to go online, we have confronted a number of challenges along the way but have also had great support from the community and especially, our funding partners who have joined with us and are also really excited to present CIAF in its digital format,” she continued. “We have been speaking regularly with the mayors of Far North Queensland’s councils, artists and the Torres Strait Regional Authority who are all very positive while also working with a number of new and different businesses than we normally would from videographers and producers to those who specialise in virtual technology.”
Part of that process includes filming the first-ever digital iteration of CIAF’s signature fashion event. Choreographed by Hans Ahwang and produced by Bernard Singleton and Simone Arnol — who is also a featured designer with Djunngaal Elders Group — seven designer collections will be showcased in the 90-minute film Water is Sacred, premiering Friday 21 August.
“Water is life,” Simone said. “In all corners of the globe people confront both opportunity and tragedy relating to water. Sometimes there is too much, other times, too little. But increasingly, the presence of, or absence of water is chaotic, with its unpredictable patterns forever resulting in natural disaster.
“Water is mystical, religious, powerful, revered and feared. It is the tie that binds everything, both animate and inanimate, regardless of outcome. It is core to life for Indigenous peoples and therefore protecting and managing water is to be a custodial and intergenerational responsibility. We have asked this year’s designers to apply their techniques and practices, both old and new, to explore and experiment, while adopting sustainable, eco-friendly practice to produce their range of wearable art,” she said.
Other presenting designers this year include: Lynelle Flinders; Bana Yirriji Art Centre; Eunice Hosea; Nicole Chatfield; Hope Vale Arts & Culture Centre; and Pormpuraaw Arts & Culture Centre.
The streamed production, which combines contemporary and traditional dance, will weave a narrative through sustainable fashion and wearable art. We have been proud partners of the CIAF fashion performances for the last four years, so will be sad to be sitting this one out on the other side of our screens instead of beside the catwalk, but we are with them in spirit and solidarity. Head to the website for a look at the full program of workshops and exhibitions so you can take part in supporting this important – and inspiring – art event.
Water is life. In all corners of the globe people confront both opportunity and tragedy relating to water. Sometimes there is too much, other times, too little. But increasingly, the presence of, or absence of water is chaotic, with its unpredictable patterns forever resulting in natural disaster.
MODEL: Nauma Wren DESIGNER: Simone Arnol & Pormpuuraw Arts and Cultural Centre PHOTOGRAPHY: Colyn Huber/Lovegreen Photography