Cairns Indigenous Art Fair Official Opening
Thank you all for the warm Far North Queensland welcome you have extended to Kaye and me this evening.
I too acknowledge our Premier, Senator Brandis, Mayor Manning, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
At once I pay respects to the Traditional Owners of the lands on which we gather, and their Elders past and present. Queensland is a richer place because of our Indigenous heritage. It is an honour to celebrate this with you all.
We have just had the privilege of a personal introduction to the spectacular array of more than a hundred and fifty works in this year’s Wabu Minjann exhibition. In a true reflection of the meaning of that title, no fewer than ninety artists have come together to share their work with us and with each other.
I know it has been a major undertaking for the Board, Management and curators to plan the Fair’s first fully curated exhibition of paintings, ceramics, textiles, prints and sculptures.
I congratulate them all on the visionary leadership they have shown in making this the first Indigenous art fair in the country to adopt a curated approach.
The Wabu Minjann exhibition is a very significant achievement this year – but not the only one. In twenty-fifteen, CIAF has also chalked up another ‘first’ – the inaugural Art Market which will enable artists and art centres to sell works directly to the public for the first time.
This, too, deserves our commendation and gratitude and, as Governor of this State, I am delighted to extend congratulations on behalf of all Queenslanders.
A third innovation which deserves congratulations is the decision to incorporate a site visit in the program for the national and international collectors and curators who have come to Cairns for the Fair.
I know that meeting the people of the Aboriginal community of Yarrabah, which I have previously visited myself, will leave an indelible impression on them. It will also greatly enhance their understanding and appreciation of Australian Indigenous culture, especially of the central importance of the arts and creativity in the life of our Indigenous communities.
Earlier this evening, Kaye and I enjoyed some lively and interesting conversations with artists, sponsors, government representatives, and national and international visitors. That experience gives me great confidence that this year’s Fair will not only fulfil its goal of being the ‘biggest and best’ CIAF yet, but will cement its burgeoning international reputation as the showcase for some of Australia’s most talented Indigenous artists and for innovative and creative art practice.
For tonight’s official opening, that showcase includes two of Australia’s most respected Indigenous musicians.
I congratulate both Archie Roach and Christine Anu on reaching significant milestones in their careers this year: Archie marking a quarter of a century since his debut album and Christine, not far behind him, celebrating twenty years in the industry. Theirs is a magnificent achievement which has inspired and paved the way for new generations of Indigenous performers.
We will also be privileged tonight to see many other exceptional music and dance performers take the stage. The entire evening is truly a celebration of the collaborative spirit of Wabu Minjann as we all share this experience together, and Kaye and I are both looking forward greatly to that experience.
With the wonderful music and dance of Indigenous artists we are going to experience tonight, I know it will be a truly memorable celebration.
It now gives me great pleasure, as a proud Queenslander and Patron, to declare officially open the twenty-fifteen Cairns International Arts Festival.