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26 November, 2021

CIAF’s 2021 Art Awards brightest Indigenous artists in Queensland

CAIRNS Indigenous Art Fair’s celebrated this year’s awards online on 19 November to recognise artists and organisations for the theme ‘Sacred’, highlighting sacred sites and places of significance.

By Isabella Guzman Gonzalez

Image supplied by Simone Arnol: Oil painting from the collection ‘Time is Sacred’ by artist Simone Arnol winner of the BDO Emerging Art Award

Singer-songwriter and youth mentor Naomi Wenitong hosted the event with an esteemed judging panel including art practitioner Dale Harding, Leitha Assan, the Exhibitions and Public Programs Manager and Lead Curator at Gab Titui Cultural Centre, and Lisa Reihana, whose pioneering art practice combines photography, video, and installation. 

Artist and Manager of the Yarrabah Arts & Cultural Precinct, Simone Arnol, said receiving the BDO Emerging Art Award for her collection of oil paintings called ‘Time is Sacred’ is a dream come true. 

“I was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer in early 2021; my work goes hand in hand with my diagnosis and the idea that time is sacred. Time to be healthy, time to connect to your family, time for the elders,” Ms Arnol said. 

“As humans, we are aware of the three stages of time - past, present and future - we can use the past to learn, and we can prepare for the future, but the present is the only time to work in.” 

“The uncertainty also highlights the importance of country. Following our Old People’s ways and making sure the next generation does as well,” she said. 

Michael Anning, Winner of the Ports North 3D Design, Sculpture, and Installation Award with Galban Yalma (cross boomerangs), said it is an honour to be selected for the award. 

Image Supplied: Galban Yalma, cross boomerangs by Michael Anning winner of the Ports North 3D Design, Sculpture and Installation award.
Image supplied by Simone Arnol: Oil painting from the collection ‘Time is Sacred’ by artist Simone Arnol winner of the BDO Emerging Art Award

“This piece is my way of expressing my rainforest Aboriginal culture to the rest of Australia and the world possibly,” Mr Anning said.

For Mr Anning, exhibitions and awards like the CIAF’S to highlight Indigenous artists and organisations are essential to teaching non-Indigenous people to appreciate and value Indigenous art and heritage. 

“It also shows to Eastern Queensland that we’re still here, and we’re still doing the best art we can according to the laws of the land.” 

Ms Arnol believes events like CIAF’s Art Awards create spaces for artists that COVID-19 had shut down. 

“Events like this give artists something to look towards; with COVID, those spaces have reduced, CIAF’s Art Awards offer a digital platform where Indigenous artists can have exposure,” she said. 

Other winners of the night were Paul Bong with ‘My Flag Represents Why Our Sacred Sites Were Dispersed,’ Pormpuraaw Art Centre for its community approach to art that shows innovation and diversity, Susan Peters for her innovative textile design that speaks to Country and Shaun Edwards for his work ‘Kowmanngen’ – Catfish Story,net-zero emissions.” 

“It is our responsibility to do all we can to protect our reef, rainforest, lifestyle and environment. Our Climate Change Strategy 2030 is part of this responsibility,” he said.

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