We wish to advise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers that this website may contain images and voices of people who are deceased.
2019 Kerry Trapnell

About CIAF

A brief history of the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair

The Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) was established by the Queensland Government as a strategic initiative of the Backing Indigenous Arts program in 2009. In order for CIAF to reach its full potential the event transitioned to independent status, outside of the auspices of the Queensland Government. A task force was established and in 2013 CIAF became a corporate entity.

CIAF Ltd is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, governed by a Board of Directors. The membership of the skills-based Board continues to progress its focus on an increased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation.

CIAF Ltd continues to be supported by both Federal and State Government funding, but also actively seeks philanthropic and sponsorship partnerships.

The CIAF Collectors and Curators program facilitates meetings with artists, leading to acquisitions for private and public collections around the globe. Over the years representatives of many esteemed institutions (including the National Gallery of Australia, Australian National Maritime Museum, Queensland Art Gallery, Queensland Museum, Auckland Art Gallery, University of Washington, National Gallery of Canada, Harvard University Art Museum, and Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia) have made purchases from CIAF.

CIAF enjoys extremely high visitor satisfaction rates, with 98 percent of visitors, artists and exhibitors rating the experience as and 'excellent' or 'good'. 90 percent of participants agree that CIAF increased their understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and cultures.

CIAF's patronage and team has a rich history also, with the inaugural Co-Patrons being the 25th Governor of Queensland, The Hon. Penelope Wensley AC, and Australia's pre-eminent ceramicist, Dr. Thancoupie Gloria Fletcher James AO. Former Artistic Directors include Michael Snelling and Avril Quaill.

CIAF Remembers Thancoupie

We wish to pay our continued respects to Dr. Thancoupie Gloria Fletcher James AO in 2021, 10 years after her passing.

Thancoupie remains Australia’s pre-eminent ceramicist – having represented Australia at the highest level internationally throughout her long and distinguished career. A Queensland Great, she remains a beloved cultural icon to many. In 2009, Thancoupie agreed to become CIAF’s first co-patron, alongside former Governor of Queensland, The Hon. Dr. Penelope Wensley AC. As an organisation we still carry her spirit with us.

On behalf of the CIAF Board of Directors, staff and stakeholders, we honour Thancoupie’s memory and lasting legacy.

Image: The late, great Thancoupie at Bouchat, Western Cape, Cape York Peninsula. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Isaacs AM.

Arone Cropped Image

Vale Arone Meeks (1957-2021)

Arone is remembered as being one of Australia’s most important and prolific contemporary Indigenous artists. His impressive body of work stands as courageous studies into contemporary issues of sexuality, identity, land rights, and the re-telling of cultural stories and lore. Arone continuously experimented with new and additional mediums; often writ-large on sweeping prints, paintings and public art installations. Arone was also a teacher, a staunch advocate for the arts, and a generous supporter of Queensland Indigenous artists and communities.

Since 2017, Arone had been a valued member of the CIAF Board of Directors. On behalf of our Patrons, Board of Directors and Staff, CIAF extends our deepest sympathies to Geoff “Tex” Dixon, Arone’s family and many, many friends.

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