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CIAF Takes a Futuristic and Sustainable View for its 2017 Fashion Performance

July 3, 2017 Whats On No Comments Email Email

This year Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) will look toward the future for its fifth, highly anticipated fashion performance, that will premiere on Friday 14 July within the atmospheric and intimate ‘round’ of a repurposed World War II oil tank within the city’s Botanic Gardens precinct.

CIAF’s fashion performance curator, Grace Lillian Lee, said this year’s performance entitled Wandan (meaning ‘future’ in Yidinji language) considers the future of Indigenous fashion in context with a changing environment, current threats confronting the World-Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef and human beings’ response.

“Wandan will be a creative and dramatic interpretation encompassing two worlds – the mainland and its infrastructure and climate change and rising water temperatures causing coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef,” Ms Lee said.

Lee is once again working with choreographer, Fiona Wirrer-George and musician and producer, Patrick Mau of Mau Power to develop a two-part performance – the first half of which will showcase the textiles and designs of 10 Queensland based Indigenous fashion designers leading into a contemporary finale underpinned by the age-old tradition and Indigenous cultural practise of story-telling.

Added to the collaborative trio of Lee, Wirrer-George and Mau will be three Indigenous dancers, Hans Ahwang, Ebony Wirrer-George and Elouise Yunkaporta who will come together in Cairns from their respective homes in the Torres Strait, Coffs Harbour and Aurukun for the one night performance.

This year’s presenting fashion designers include newcomers Hopevale Arts Centre, Indij Design, Uki Burchill from Mossman Gorge, and Chantal Henley from Stradbroke Island as well as Yarrabah Arts Centre, MI Art, Leecee Carmichael, Lynelle Flinders and Simone Arnol.

In her collaboration with Wirrer-George and Mau, Lee says this year’s two-part performance combines practical objectives showcasing textiles and fashion design while questioning the future and the role of Indigenous people as environmental custodians.

Wandan will feature 20 models – 16 females and four males from communities across Queensland, including 45-year-old artist, Sonja Carmichael from Stradbroke Island who along with Mornington Island’s Netta and Amy Loogatha and the four Gabori girls, Elsie, Amanda, Dorothy and Helena, will be taking part in CIAF’s fashion performance for the first time.

“I am thrilled to have Sonja and the Mornington Island artists taking part in our show as I have always looked up to them and want to show that this performance is not just about aesthetic beauty but something far deeper and more spiritual transcending age,” she said.

Another new and anticipated highlight of this year’s performance will be the opening drumming and fashion showcase by 11 students from Kubin Ngurpay Lag school on Moa in the Torres Strait.

Ms Lee said she has just spent a residency on the Island, working with the children at their school to paint and create garments inspired by their land and the hot colours of a Great Barrier Reef impacted by rising water temperatures.

A final noteworthy element of this year’s Wandan themed performance is the fully-recycled stage set being produced by Allan Lee in collaboration with The Power of Pallets – a charitable fundraising project supporting Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation that uses upcycled timber pallets to create works of art, furniture and practical storage solutions.

In a partnership with QUT Creative Industries, Ms Lee will be supported in the production phase by five, final year interns who will travel to Cairns for the week of rehearsals and public performances.

Wandan will be performed twice on Friday, 16 July in Tank 3 at Tanks Arts Centre with a special community preview at 3.30pmthat afternoon.  Tickets are now on sale at Ticketlink. Click on here to Buy Tickets Now.

CIAF festival goers can stay up to date with the latest CIAF program information by downloading the 2017 version of CIAF’s event app or visiting

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