Cairns Indigenous Art Fair CIAF

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Personal Response to Family Values theme decides Queensland’s Best Indigenous Artists

Photo Caption: Using their winnings in last year’s inaugural CIAF Art Awards, the artists from Wik & Kugu Art Centre travelled to Melbourne in November to view their kugu’ camp dogs on show at the National Gallery of Victoria’s Past Legacy Present Tense exhibition.

Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) is the quintessential celebration of Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture held over three days in July at Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal and key galleries and performance venues throughout the city.

Since its establishment in 2009 CIAF has delivered an all-inclusive program of mostly free, family friendly events spanning visual and performing arts, fashion, film and workshops.

CIAF provides an ethical point of sale directly benefitting artists and this year was its most successful yet with 47,000 visitors and record art sales of $760,000.

Among this year’s highlights was the introduction of CIAF Art Awards recognising Queensland’s best Indigenous artists and organisations.

The major winner of the inaugural Awards was announced by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk MP at CIAF’s opening night party in July.

Garry Namponan from Wik and Kugu Art Centre won the Queensland Government’s prestigious Premier’s Award for Excellence and a cash prize of $15,000 to support the continued development of his art practice. This prize money, along with that won in the Cairns Regional Council’s Art Centre award sponsored Art Centre award helped fund a trip in November for the artists to visit Melbourne and view their sculptures on display at the National Gallery of Victoria’s Past Legacy Present Tense.

“I am delighted the Queensland Government partnered with CIAF to create the Premier’s Award for Excellence and to be part of the inaugural CIAF Art Awards.

“These Awards are a wonderful addition to CIAF that celebrates our talented artists, provides further development pathways for Queensland Indigenous artists, and increases the Fair’s national and international profile,” the Premier said.

CIAF’s Artistic Director, Janina Harding said the CIAF Art Awards were introduced to support and grow the professional development of Queensland’s talented Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.

“It is my opinion that over time, the CIAF Art Awards will brighten the spotlight on the vibrant identity and diversity of Queensland’s Indigenous art movement while inspiring artists to reach even higher in their practice.

CIAF Art Award Winners 2017
• Garry Namponan from Wik & Kugu Art Centre, winner of the Premier’s Award for Excellence sponsored by the Queensland Government ($15,000)
• Alison Murray from Girringun Art Centre, winner of the Emerging Artist Award sponsored by Marsh Property ($5000 prize)
• Gail Mabo securing the Award for Innovation sponsored by Copyright Agency, Viscopy ($10,000 prize)
• Wik and Kugu Art Centre awarded Cairns Regional Council’s Art Centre Award, sponsored by Cairns Regional Council ($10,000 prize)
• Daniel O’Shane, Canopy Art Centre awarded Peoples Choice sponsored by Fibre Optics NQ ($5000)

This year’s judging panel comprised Maude Page, Deputy Director, Art Gallery of NSW, Tina Baum Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art National Gallery of Australia and artists, Tony Albert.

Building on the success of this year’s inaugural awards, CIAF has already announced next year’s Art Fair theme, Connection to Country, while expanding its judging categories to include the powerful medium of photography through a new $5000 prize backed by major partner, Ports North.

In effect, there will be even more opportunities for Queensland’s Indigenous artists to shine with a total prize cache of $50,000.

Judging for the 2018 CIAF Art Awards will take place on Wednesday 11 July with winners announced at the Opening Night Party on Thursday 12 July.

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Words & Photo By Pip Miller