Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Fashion Showcase at Cairns Indigenous Art Fair

Of Spirit and Story

Update: 3 August 2021

In response to current lockdowns and health advice, Australia’s premier Art Fair and Queensland’s quintessential celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and cultures, Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) is postponed until November 2021.

The event, that was scheduled to take place this month, will now be held between Wednesday 10 and Sunday 14 November 2021.

The Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) 2021 was, until today, scheduled to be hosting its eighth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fashion showcase, Of Spirit and Story, in three separate showings, in August 2021.

Choreographer Hans Ahwang will be joined by fellow Torres-Strait Islander and award-winning artist, Clinton Naina to present Of Spirit and Story showcasing inspired collections from 11 of Queensland’s emerging and established Indigenous designers. The designs will be modelled by 21 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander models.

From the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair 2020
First Nations Fashion & Design from CIAF 2020 Water is Sacred Fashion Showcase

Of Spirit and Story will deliver a spectacular and engaging 90-minute performance that explores the import and meaning of ancient sacred sites and places of significance, from creation along with the preservation of Country and its vast resources.

Cairns Indigenous Art Fair
Designer: Bana Yirriji Wujal

CIAF’s artistic director Janina Harding said this year’s fashion performance encompasses a powerful narrative spanning sustainable fashion, wearable art and design within a creative fusion of contemporary and traditional music and dance.

“This performance has never been about fashion for fashion’s sake; the message is always significant, if not more so , than the garments on show.”

– Janina Harding, Artistic Director, CIAF

“While last year focused on the environment and water conservation in particular, this year the theme pays homage to sacred sites and places of significance and points to the recent destruction through mining of Juukan caves in Western Australia’s Pilbara which caused outrage across Australia and the world.   

From Water is Sacred Fashion Show 2020
Designer: Pormpuraaw

“We know how important it is to control and protect our sacred sites and places.  On our homelands or in our regions there are various ecological forms such as rainforest, rocky terrain, mountains, waterways, beaches and land that hold cultural significance or historical value or both.  We have stories that relate to the Dreaming as well as places that are pivotal to our lived experience. Sacred sites and places of significance cannot be replaced.  In the same way, our knowledge is also irreplaceable,” she said.

“Sacred Sites and places of significance cannot be replaced….Our knowledge is also irreplaceable.”

– Janina Harding
Cairns Indigenous Art Fair
Designer: Eunice Hosea

Of Spirit and Story Curator Clinton Naina said designers have been asked to consider their own memories, lived experience and observations that can be told through a lens of Blak sovereignty, lore, songlines and family or take a culture versus colonisation approach covering imperialism, capitalism, mining, desecration and destruction.

“Will Sacred Sites ever be protected from the greed and carelessness of Colonial Imperialist Capitalism? Will Sacred Sites and Places of Significance ever be acknowledged, understood, respected and left alone? When will they be valued and seen as special places that need to be protected and not plundered for “profit”? The struggle of survival continues, and a new day begins, Of Spirit and Story.”

– Artist, Clinton Naina, 2021

“In 2021 we are taking a broad, inclusive and unified approach that could even be termed non-binary spanning gender, body type, opinions and perspectives.  We are embracing our difference from the stories we tell, to the way we consider spirituality and what is sacred.  Regardless of who we are, where we are situated or related in the bigger picture scheme of things it is important that we convey everyone as a collective, unified people,” Clinton said.

Cairns Indigenous Art Fair 2020
From Cairns Indigenous Art Fair 2020, First Nations Fashion + Design

“…we are taking a broad, inclusive and unified approach that could even be termed non-binary, spanning gender, body type, opinions and perspectives. We are embracing our difference…”

– Clinton Naina

Hans Ahwang, who has performed, modelled, mentored and choreographed several CIAF fashion performances to date is enjoying the creative process of infusing this year’s theme with movements and dance formations evoking the power and protest message underpinning Of Spirit and Story.

“This year it is about capturing the essence and disparity of two worlds that collide and push each other back and forward, creating confusion and conflict.  Think oil and water.”

CIAF 2020
Designer: Bana Yirriji Wujal

Participating Designers

Bana Yirriji Art Centre

Simone Arnol & Bernard Singleton

Yarrabah Arts Centre & Cultural Precent

Magpie Goose

Malu Jewellery


Woorabinda Arts

Irene Robinson

Lynelle Flinders

Cairns TAFE

Hopevale Arts & Culture Centre

With special presentation by Pormpuraaw Art & Culture Centre

Tickets are $30 preview and $65 and can be purchased from Ticketlink.

To see 2020’s fashion showcase, see: Water is Sacred.

See also: Always Was Always Will Be: How First Nations Creatives Took Australian Fashion Week By Storm


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