• Artwork from last year's Cairns Indigenous Art Fair gives a glimpse of what to expect this year. (Blueclick photography.)Source: Blueclick photography.
The Cairns Indigenous Art Fair kicks off tonight, with the event going virtual for the next 10 days, showcasing Queensland’s top Indigenous artists from remote and regional communities.
Douglas Smith

14 Aug 2020 - 4:15 PM  UPDATED 14 Aug 2020 - 4:15 PM

Queensland's biggest Indigenous arts and cultural gathering, the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair, has decided to push ahead despite COVID-19, taking its 10-day event online with a virtual extravaganza starting tonight. 

Due to current travel and social distancing restrictions, virtual galleries, presentations, performances, webinars, workshops and community spotlights will be all live-streamed on the organisation’s Facebook page.  

In a statement, Chair of the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF), Tom Mosby, said this year’s decision to proceed with the art festival was based on the “desire to use digital technology” to transform what has been a challenging time into an opportunity.

“For 10 days and beyond, CIAF will be a time in which our communities, friends and supporters can all experience the vibrant and unique arts and culture of this region,” said Mr Mosby.

On Friday, Torres Strait Islander artist, Toby Cedar, told NITV News that he was looking forward to showcasing his people’s culture with art of his totem, which tells his people's story called 'Beizam Pakaru Bailiki'.

"Normally I make all head dresses and mask, traditional and contemporary, but this year, I've gone outside the box and tested myself and made a 3D tiger shark, which is about two-metres long," said Mr Cedar. 

"The frame was made from bamboo and I inlayed the whole shark with pearl shells, and inside the fins and the tail, its hollow and i inlayed it with fertilised resin and I carved it out inside of if, which is my totem.

"And thats what the the story is about, my totem, and it's about the song and how the shark stands on its tail, waiting for it prey, then eats the prey."

Artistic Director of CIAF, Janina Harding, said the event would be run just as it has in previous years, albeit with a digital focus, showcasing a diverse range of Indigenous art from remote and regional communities in Queensland.  

“It was more a case of, what can we do to make sure this year’s event proceeds as planned and continues supporting artists and communities," said Ms Harding. 

“CIAF is more than an event; it plays an integral role in cultural sharing and promoting better understanding with the wider community.

“Our opening night will set an artistic and cultural scene befitting this year’s celebration while signalling the CIAF 2020 Art Fair exhibition going live"

Spanning a mix of new and established awards, Queensland’s best and brightest Indigenous artists will share in a prize pool of $50,000 across six award categories.

· Premier’s Award for Excellence sponsored by Queensland Government ($15,000)

· Cairns Regional Council’s Art Centre Award ($10,000)

· Holding Redlich Innovation Award ($10,000)

· Ports North Sculpture Award ($5,000)

· BDO (Nth Qld) Emerging Artist Award ($5000)

· People’s Choice Award sponsored by Gillian Mailman Group of Companies ($5000)

Vice-Chancellor urged to rethink pick for Aboriginal knowledge director
The selection of a non-Indigenous person for the role of Director of a leading university's inaugural Indigenous Knowledge Institute continues to attract condemnation from many First Nations academics.