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10 September, 2021

Exhibition to honor local adventurer

The life and legacy of a Far North adventurer who, with Traditional Owners, fought for the heritage protection of the celebrated ancient Quinkan rock art near Laura, will be showcased in an exhibition opening at Cairns Museum on September 4.

Fleur Anderson, executive officer of Cairns Historical Society, said the exhibition, Percy Trezise – The Man Who Loved Cape York Peninsula, was a tribute to an unconventional visionary who was once a household name in the north.

“Percy Trezise was a force and an amazingly talented man and we expect a lot of interest from the community in this exhibition,” Ms Anderson said.

“He was a charismatic figure who raised awareness on the national stage and beyond of Queensland’s significant Indigenous cultural heritage in the rock art of Cape York.”

Suzanne Gibson, curator at Cairns Museum, said the exhibition was about a man and a place coming together at a particular time in Far North Queensland history.

“In 2018 the museum received a donation of a children’s book and painting by Percy Trezise but few could remember why they knew his name,” Ms Gibson said.

“A little research and there it was- for 30 years, Percy Trezise’s name was synonymous with Cape York Peninsula.

That donation triggered this exhibition, a considered reflection, 50 years on, of Percy Trezise in his time and place, Cape York.”

Ms Gibson said it was who recognised the importance of the rock art and its connection to the living culture of Cape York’s Aboriginal people.

His art introduced the Cape’s landscapes and stories into the national art scene. He championed Australian stories for Australian children and promoted Aboriginal creation stories as unique world heritage of which we should be proud.”

Ms Anderson said the exhibition relied on a range of partnerships between Cairns Museum and the Trezise family, James Cook University, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies and the Laura Rangers and Ang-Gnarra Aboriginal Corporation.

“The academics, artists, families and friends that knew Percy have been incredibly generous in sharing his story and the photographs, objects, paintings and memories they hold of him,” she said.

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