Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) has announced that artist and designer Francoise Lane will be its Artistic Director following the departure of Janina Harding at the completion of last month’s Fair.

With involvement in CIAF since 2013, as both an artist exhibitor and curator of exhibitions, ‘Where’s Your Permit?’ in 2021 and ‘CIAF Fashion Story’ in 2022, Ms Lane is well placed to build upon the achievements of her predecessor.

After a two-year COVID hiatus, CIAF made an impressive comeback this year with record art sales exceeding a million dollars for the first time, and attendance across the five-day program of more than 60,000 visitors.

A Torres Strait Islander woman whose maternal family are from Kerriri (Hammond Island), Francoise Lane identifies as both Meriam and Kaurareg. Inspired by her family and the natural reef and rainforest landscapes of her tropical FNQ home, Francoise is a multi-disciplinary creative whose practise spans textile design, visual and surface pattern art, and sculpture. She and her husband Andrew Lane established Indij Design in 2011, a fully Indigenous owned, award-winning architectural and design company.

“The intersection of design and art is an exciting one and it will be wonderful to explore what this could add to CIAF,” said Ms Lane, who has commenced her role with CIAF already, working towards the delivery of CIAF’s 14th season at Cairns Convention Centre and throughout the city from Wednesday 12 July to Sunday 16 July 2023.

Meanwhile, over in the West, the State government has announced that a ‘world-class’ Aboriginal cultural centre showcasing the State’s First Nations heritage will be built on the banks of the Derbarl Yerrigan, the Swan River, by 2028. It will be situated on what is currently the car park for the Perth Concert Hall.

The site was chosen primarily because of its connection to the Derbarl Yerrigan, Heirisson Island (Matta Gerup) and Kings Park (Katta Koomba), which are places of cultural significance to Noongar people. The Whadjuk Cultural Authority representatives on the Aboriginal Cultural Centre Steering Committee were asked to consider six different locations near the Swan River (Derbarl Yerrigan). The selection of the site went through an extensive cultural investigation and consultation process, now endorsed by the wider Whadjuk reference group for the project.

The Centre has a joint funding commitment of $102 million with $50m from the McGowan Government, and a total of $52m from the Federal Government, which was an election commitment by the ALP.

The project will now progress through further engagement with the newly elected Directors and cultural advice committee members of the Whadjuk Aboriginal Corporation, established under the South West Native Title Settlement. “We hope the Centre will be a healing and gathering space for Aboriginal people across WA, where we can connect as First Nations peoples and share our culture with people from all over the world”, the Corporation commented. “We see this project as a huge opportunity for Aboriginal people to not only showcase their culture, but benefit from the economic, tourism and employment opportunities the Centre will bring”.

WA Premier Mark McGowan emphasised that the Centre is designed for audiences – both local and tourists – to gain a deeper understanding of the State’s rich Aboriginal culture through authentic immersive experiences. This is the only reference in the Government’s announcement as to the purposes of the Centre, limited to a WA remit, and an intent similar to the more advanced Tarrkarri project in Adelaide, which starts with the advantage of a commitment by the SA Museum to hand over its massive anthropological collection. Will Perth’s Berndt Museum offer the same bounty?

Private industries and philanthropists are expected to help fund the rest of the centre’s build, which may reach $400m for a building that the Premier wants to “be of a world standard” and as iconic as the Sydney Opera House.