Cairns indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) is back, and this August it’s moving into a sparkling new hub, with a film festival, music in the park, and a host of stellar events and exhibitions that focus the spotlight on Queensland’s distinct and diverse Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander arts and cultures.

For its twelfth iteration, CIAF is staging the Fair and Market in the international award-winning Cairns Convention Centre. The opening night party, Art Awards and workshop activities will move into the refurbished space in Cairns town centre.

The digital programming that was developed in 2020 to overcome lockdown restrictions, is also being delivered, inviting the whole world to celebrate. Last year, CIAF was accessed by more than 2.5 million devices in 85 countries.

Queensland’s Minister for the Arts, Leeanne Enoch commented, “In recognising the unique attributes of the festival, the Palaszczuk Government invests in CIAF with annual funding of $600,000, along with project funding of $200,000 for a new large-scale artwork that will be a centrepiece of the 2022 festival. CIAF also successfully secured $64,000 through the First Nations Commissioning Fund to develop the ‘LIVE IT UP’ performing arts and music program”.

CIAF’s Artistic Director, Janina Harding welcomes Teho Ropeyarn, curator and new manager of the Collectors and Curators program in 2021. Teho is an artist and curator from Injinoo, way up Cape York. Together, they will bring to Cairns works inspired by the theme ‘SACRED – an artistic response to Queensland’s sacred sites and places of significance’.

There’s also a return of the Symposium, music and cultural dance, and Indigenous fashion as pioneered by CIAF. The Art Gallery is examining ‘Ritual’ in Australia and across the Pacific through the work of more than thirty Indigenous and Asian Pacific artists, and Janina Harding is asking ‘Where’s Your Permit?’ in an exhibition linking COVID lockdowns with the bad old permit days on the Mission.

CIAF is also expanding out to performance – including a Torresian ‘Othello‘, films and comedy. 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 a program of mostly free events that include the original ethical marketplace for art collectors, curators, and the public.

Meanwhile, in South Australia, Tarnanthi, the Art Gallery’s annual celebration of contemporary First Nations art returns for the sixth time in October. Internationally acclaimed as the largest festival of its kind, Tarnanthi this year comprises a major exhibition at AGSA, a state-wide festival across 30 partner venues, and the Tarnanthi Art Fair presented over the opening weekend.

Since its debut in 2015, Tarnanthi has presented the work of 4,500 First Nations artists while 1.4 million people have attended Tarnanthi exhibitions and events.

Featured artists at AGSA are:
John Prince Siddon:
The psychedelic paintings and sculptures of Walmajarri artist John Prince Siddon will come from one of Australia’s most experimental art centres, Mangkaja Arts in Fitzroy Crossing, WA. Prince’s paintings deliver critical commentaries on environmental, social and political issues through an ironic combination of Australian stories, the media and ancestral creation narratives. In Tarnanthi 2021 will be a suite of paintings made on kangaroo pelts, installed on a vivid wallpaper backdrop designed by the artist.

Kathy and Tracey Ramsay:
Gija sisters Kathy and Tracey Ramsay come from a significant lineage – their grandfather Timmy Timms and their late father Rammey Ramsey. They’re from the tiny community in Juwurlinji or Bow River in the East Kimberley. The Ramsay sisters have created a suite of paintings using ochre describing their ownership of Country, depicting spaces that are intimately familiar to them but unknown to anyone outside Bow River. Their works become a shorthand for all of the social, cultural, political and historical knowledge that the family holds as the Traditional Owners for Bow River.

Alec Baker:
Deep knowledge and cultural memorials form the rich palette that colours Alec Baker’s bold canvases. ‘Sometimes I’m thinking about the colours, sometimes I’m just thinking from my memory [of] all the country I’ve been at, all the stories I have’, says the respected elder from Indulkana, in the  APY Lands of South Australia. Baker, aged almost ninety, has spent a lifetime on the land, from growing up in a traditional lifestyle on Country to his many years as a stockman. His sixteen works in Tarnanthi are each called ‘Ngura‘, which means Country, campsite, a place of meaning and belonging – a simple yet complex title, one that aptly expresses the essence of his long lifetime.

The Festival’s creative vision is led by Tarnanthi Artistic Director, Barkandji artist and curator, Nici Cumpston OAM. Cumpston says, ‘It is an absolute privilege to bring this world-class art experience to audiences again in 2021”.

Premier of South Australia, Steven Marshall is delighted to see the return of the celebrated Festival and says, “Not only is Tarnanthi the nation’s wellspring that champions the important voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artistic talent, Tarnanthi has also generated almost $100 million for our State’s economy”.

BHP Olympic Dam President, Jennifer Purdie adds, “BHP is proud to partner with the Art Gallery of South Australia to support artists in their social and cultural well-being, economic empowerment, and pathways to self-determination”.

Tarnanthi Art Fair:
More than $4 million worth of art has been sold at the Tarnanthi Art Fair since 2015, with all money going directly to artists and communities, and all artist travel and freight costs funded by Tarnanthi. In 2021, the Tarnanthi Art Fair will be held in a new location over the opening weekend of the Festival at Adelaide’s Torrens Parade Ground.

International Tarnanthi exhibitions:
During 2020, when local and national exhibition programs had been seriously interrupted, Tarnanthi presented its first international offering. ‘Kulata Tjuta‘, an exhibition of art from the APY Lands, at the Musée des Beaux-arts in Rennes, Brittany. The exhibition lives on and is currently on view in Le Havre, Normandy until 7 November as part of an almost totally unknown festival promoted by DFAT, ‘Australia Now France‘.

The full Tarnanthi 2021 program will be announced in August.