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Australia Destination Experience Featured

Queensland’s showcase of Indigenous Arts and Cultures shine sacred and bright in 2021

Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) is back, and this year is shaping up to be its brightest yet with a sparkling new hub, film festival after dark, music in the park, along with host of stellar events and exhibitions that focus the spotlight on Queensland’s distinct and diverse Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander arts and culture.

For its highly anticipated 12th annual iteration, CIAF returns to staging its physical event, this time in the impressive, international award-winning surroundings of Cairns Convention Centre following an extensive refurbishment. The opening night party, Art Awards, Art Fair and Art Market and workshop activities will transition into the sophisticated new space situated across the road from CIAF’s former Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal headquarters.

Added to this, digital programming that was developed in 2020 to successfully overcome lockdown restrictions, is being delivered in tandem, which in effect, invites the whole world to celebrate.

Notably, last year’s evolution to digital programming resounded in high engagement with live streamed performances, presentations, webinars and workshops accessed by more than 2.5 million devices in 85 countries.

Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch said CIAF 2021 will continue to share the unique First Nations cultures of Queensland within the local community as well as with millions of people across the world.

“Congratulations to CIAF for leveraging the successes of last year’s virtual festival to create an exciting 2021 fusion festival, combining live events with digital programming, spanning visual arts, theatre, music, fashion and providing an ethical platform for economic opportunity and experiences,” Minister Enoch said.

“Australia is home to the longest continuous living cultures in the world. Telling the stories of country and helping nurture a greater understanding of the First Nations peoples, place and culture are key imperatives for CIAF.”

CIAF’s Artistic Director Janina Harding said the organisation is in a prime position to attract new audiences from across Australia and the globe through a composite event that offers Cairns and Queensland communities with a broad range of economic and social benefits.

“This year we will be presenting a really exciting and vibrant program that encapsulates the culture, talent and significance of Country, sacred sites and sense of place to Queensland First Peoples’ through visual arts, fashion, theatre, talks, music and dance,” Ms Harding said.

Along with a new festival hub CIAF 2021 festival goers can look forward to experiencing a fresh, feel-good vibe brought to life in a program bearing a number of firsts among the 20 plus events and activities, most of which are free to enjoy.

According to Ms Harding, music and cultural dance is much loved favourite of CIAF which will be truly celebrated with its own stage and event at Munro Martin Parklands on Saturday 21 August.

Spanning six days between Tuesday 17 and Sunday 22 August 2021, the event will feature the work of approximately 300 visual artists and 150 performers across the multidimensional program of mostly free, family friendly events that foster an inclusive and ethical marketplace for aspiring and established art collectors, curators, and the public.

2021 program newcomers and highlights are as follows:

CIAF Symposium: Wednesday 18 August 2021, Cairns Convention Centre
The State of the Arts will provide the 2021 platform for Queensland Indigenous artists, arts professionals and academics to discuss key issues as well as share their arts practice with a live audience.

CIAF Opening Night & Art Awards: Thursday 19 August 2021, Cairns Convention Centre
In 2021 CIAF celebrate its opening with guests invited to a first look at this year’s Art Fair exhibition, SACRED with a first-class entertainment program including music from headline performer, self-taught guitar virtuoso, Chris Tamwoy with special guest Tania-Rose Gibuma along with the presentation of CIAF’s fifth annual art awards bearing a prize cache of $50,000 shared across six judging categories for the best and brightest Indigenous artists.  Spanning a mix of new and established award partners, the art awards reflect CIAF’s mission to support and recognise the creative diversity and talent of Queensland’s First Peoples’.

CIAF SACRED Art Fair and Art MarketFriday 20 to Sunday 22 August 2021, Cairns Convention Centre
This year’s Art Fair moves to a more spacious and impressive exhibition space in the newly refurbished Cairns Convention Centre.  The exhibition will feature works from an expanded number of Indigenous Art Centres, galleries and independent artists from across the state including Gulf, Cape York and Torres Strait Communities, including Kowanyama Arts Centre and Doomadgee for the first time and those represented by Aboriginal Development Benefits Trust (ADBT).  Co curated by CIAF Artistic Director Janina Harding and Curatorial Associate, Teho Ropeyarn, works will be inspired by 2021 theme ‘SACRED – an artistic response to Queensland’s sacred sites and places of significance’.  In addition, the expanded Art Market will also be staged within the new Cairns Convention Centre hub featuring between 35 and 40 market stalls, a covetable range of authentic, quality art works in all mediums along with gift ware and accessories.

CIAF Of Spirit & Story Fashion – Thursday 19 & Friday 20 August 2021, Tank 3, Tanks Arts Centre
Award-winning artist Clinton Naina will curate this year’s fashion performance with choreography by Hans Ahwang, destined to provide a powerful and thought-provoking response to this year’s theme, Of Spirit and Story. Inspired by Sacred Sites and Places of Significance, Queensland’s Indigenous fashion designers and models will convey cultural and historical stories about their land and the responsibility of caring for Country through wearable art, design, music and performance.

Pitchas After Dark, Friday 20 August 2021, Western Events Lawn, Cairns Esplanade.
Presented by CIAF in partnership with End Credits Film Club, Aaron Fa’aoso will host a free showcase of short films by Queensland’s emerging and established film makers.

CIAF Comedy Up Late, Friday 20 August 2021, Tanks Arts Centre, will follow hot on fashion’s heels with a dose of hilarity, also at Tanks Arts Centre, featuring Katharine’s own Constantina Bush, with On the Couch with Connie B. featuring well-known songstresses, Toni Childs and Naomi Wenitong and stand-up from proud Ngarrindjeri man Kevin Kropenyeri, Australia’s premier comedian.

CIAF Art Exhibition Where’s Your Permit ? Opening: Friday 20 August 2021, Tank 4, Tanks Arts Centre
Co curated by CIAF Artistic Director Janina Harding and artist/designer Francoise Lane, ‘Where’s Your Permit?’ is a CIAF 2021 exhibition of works from a broad range of Queensland based artists that looks truth telling through visual stories stimulated by living with COVID-19 restrictions and historical protector permits during the “mission days”.

CIAF Music in the Park: Saturday 21 August 2021, Munro Martin Parklands
Making its debut in 2021, CIAF will showcase Queensland’s hotbed of Indigenous talent spanning vocalists, musicians, bands, and cultural dancers at a new, family-friendly, festival style afternoon to evening event.  Headliners include Frank Yamma, Miiesha, and a performance by the winners of the 2021 Laura Festival, Lockhart River Dance Group.

Tickets are on sale via www.ticketlink.com.au

SOURCE: Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF)
IMAGE CREDIT: Coral Trout by Kim Norman Pormpuraaw Art & Culture Centre – CIAF