Blog Post

Highlights of Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF)

  • Where

    Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal

  • When

    10-14 July 2019

2019 marks the 10th Anniversary of Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF), an event that, since it’s inception, has attracted over 280,000 people with 2019 expecting thousands more. 

Many satellite events and exhibitions take place across Cairns in the weeks leading up to the Art Fair including the CIAF Symposium on Wednesday 10 July and the official opening on Thursday 11 July. Check out some of the event highlights below.

Opening Night

Torres Strait dancer at the Opening Night

Cairns Indigenous Art Fair launches each year on Thursday, before the main event kicks off on Friday, attracting renowned Indigenous Australian performers and dance troupes. 2019 showcases Torres Strait Islander hip-hop star Mau Power and North Queensland’s band of brothers, Black Image. Guests are invited to an advanced preview of the cornerstone event, the Art Fair, traditional song and dance performances and rounding off the evening with a spectacular fireworks display. Each ticket holder receives a $15 food voucher to use at the on-site food market.

Thursday 11 July, 2019 – 6.30pm to 10.30pm

Fashion Performance

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures come together for one of CIAF’s most highly anticipated events, the Fashion Performance. 2019’s theme, “Buwal-Barra… Messenger. Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow.”, is a journey of the story or voice being carried and delivered. A haunting mix of contemporary and traditional style, the fashion performance showcases wearable art, fashion, dance, music and performances, and is a must-do experience for CIAF punters.

Thursday 11 (preview) and Friday 12 July, 2019

Cultural Heights

Mer Ira Watai Choir

New to CIAF 2019 is Cultural Heights – A Legacy of Traditional Language and Song. It’s the culmination of an extraordinary, community-based project providing remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities of Tropical North Queensland with a sense of agency and pride. Working with communities to create something special and memorable for CIAF’s 10th anniversary, this event will showcase the richness and diversity of the First Peoples’ culture, language and song. 80 singers from the Torres Strait Islands and Aboriginal communities will present a reimagining of songs, sung in language.

Saturday 13 July 2019, 2pm and 7.30pm, at Cairns Performing Arts Centre

Art Fair & Art Market

MIArt - Mirndiyan Gununa from Mornington Island at Cairns Indigenous Art Fair

Wik and Kugu Arts Centre camp dogs

Injinoo dancers

Art Market

Welcome to the centrepiece of CIAF, the art fair itself. Taking place at the Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal over three days, this free event exhibits works from 12 Indigenous art centres, two commercial galleries and five local galleries from across Queensland focussing around 2019’s theme “My Yarn Now”, which speaks to the artists’ personal stories and journeys.

Attached to the main exhibition space in the CIAF Pavillion, is the Art Market, with over 45 stalls of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island art, craft and designs from across the region. This bustling, ethical marketplace is a great place to pick up original paintings, jewellery, ceramics and weavings directly from the artists or art centres. 

Head outside to watch the free musical and cultural dance performances, attend an artist’s talk or art workshop and enjoy lunch at the Eat Street food market.

Friday 12 to Sunday 14 July, 2019

Children's Activities

REACH program

Your kids can take away a souvenir to cherish when they participate in free workshops at the Gungun Warruwarru (Children’s Corner). Under the guidance of local Indigenous artists, children can experiment and create their own pieces of art, from stencilling to jewellery and more. Parents and children can also learn the cultural stories, dances and songs from the region at the Children’s Story-time Sessions at the Cairns City Library.

Kids can also participate in the REACH (Regional Excellence in Arts and Culture Hub) program, offering children the opportunity to learn the importance that art plays in today’s cultural narrative. Collect the Kids CIAF Workbook in the Cairns Post on Thursday 11 July, 2019. 

Even more

Closing Ceremony

Weaving workshop

Torres Strait performers

From exhibitions to artist talks, workshops and demonstrations, there are many activities you can participate in at part of your CIAF experience.

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