• Gail Mabo won the inaugural Copyright Agency/Viscopy Innovation Award 2017. (CIAF)Source: CIAF
The 2017 Cairns Indigenous Art Fair art awards were announced at the closing ceremony of the annual celebration of Indigenous creativity in Far North Queensland which wrapped up on the 16th July. Winners were Daniel O'Shane, Garry Garry Namponan, Alison Murray, Wik & Kugu Art Centre & Gail Mabo.
Nancia Guivarra

24 Jul 2017 - 3:42 PM  UPDATED 24 Jul 2017 - 6:57 PM

The 2017 Cairns Indigenous Art Fair showcased Indigenous creatives from across the performing and visual arts sector. The three-day fair was held on Gimuy, Walaburra and Yindinji country at the Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal.

Innovation Award sponsored by Copyright Agency/Viscopy

Winner: Gail Mabo

An inaugural innovation award sponsored by the Copyright Agency/Viscopy was awarded to Meriam Artist Gail Mabo from Townsville on opening night. The award was presented to her by Leesa Watego. Ms Mabo won the award for her bamboo sculptures with shells that replicate maps made by her father, Mabo case leader, Eddie Koiki Mabo as evidence for ownership of his family lands on Mer.

Ms Mabo was overwhelmed by winning the award saying it was the first time she'd ever won one.

"For me to actually now express what he has done through my art, it gives me more of an appreciation and more respect for what he’s left us, the legacy. The legacy has to be something that we have to live with and we have to be comfortable with and how are we going to do that.  the best way to do that is something I feel comfortable with and that’s my art." 

Gail Mabo's four bamboo works took out the judges attention for the prize. Shown above in her photograph is the constellation of Tagai made of bamboo, one of four pieces that were immediately purchased by the National Gallery of Victoria.  

"In 2015 my dad was actually honoured by getting a star which sits in the constellation of Tagai which actually sits in the constellation that all Australians know as the Southern Cross. With that I wanted to honour him by doing my interpretation of Tagai which I have done."

The brilliant blue star of "Koiki" sits in the constellation of Tagai which is part of the Southern Cross, a legacy and fitting reminder for all Australians that the traditional knowledge and culture of Indigenous Australians has existed for more than 70,000 years despite the original doctrine of Terra Nullius. The bamboo Mabo used for the installations connected her to her dad. It was grown by Koiki when he was a gardener at James Cook University where he got the idea to challenge the Queensland government over the ownership of family plots on Mer (Murray Island).  

Queensland Government Premier’s Award for Excellence ($10,000 prize) 

Winner: Garry Namponan (Wik & Kugu Art Centre)

Pictured below receiving his award from Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

Cairns Regional Council Art Centre Award ($10,00 prize)

Winners: Wik and Kugu Art Centre (artists pictured below)



Emerging Art Award ($5000 prize) 

Winner: Alison Murray  

Girringun Art Centre representatives picked up the award on behalf of Alison. Pictured below with Kerry Maza.  

MC Luke Carroll at CIAF Opening Night. 

Fibre Optics NQ Peoples Choice Award

Winner: Daniel O’Shane, Canopy Art Centre

Cairns region traditional owner and Intellectual Property expert, Henrietta Fourmile, at CIAF Opening Night.