Gorge artists in class of their own

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - HOLLY ROBERT­SON

THE Far North’s most pow­er­ful women - the Premier, the Gover­nor and the Mayor - are all huge fans of Moss­man Gorge artists.

A group of Kuku Yalanji in­dige­nous artists launched a smash hit se­ries of silk scarves at last year’s Cairns In­dige­nous Arts Fair.

Queens­land Premier Anna Bligh and Gover­nor Pene­lope Wens­ley were among those who lined up to buy a scarf, with Ms Bligh re­turn­ing to CIAF this year with her pur­chase draped around her neck.

The tex­tiles are pro­duced us­ing tra­di­tional dyes and pat­terns taken from art­works by Roy Gib­son, Kay Creek, Fiona Creek and Pamela Salt.

Cairns Re­gional Coun­cil mayor Val Schier stocked up on the silk tex­tiles for the sec­ond year run­ning, buy­ing 10 to use as cor­po­rate gifts.

Ms Schier said she was mind­ful of sup­port­ing in­dige­nous artists in the re­gion.

“Ob­vi­ously they’re some­thing very dis­tinctly Aus­tralian, they’re beau­ti­fully pre­sented and they pro­vide the his­tory and the story be­hind the de­sign,” she said.

“I think they make a stun­ning gift.

“I also bought for coun­cil an art­work by Karen Gib­son.”

Artist Pamela Salt said the Moss­man Gorge artists pro­duced a big­ger col­lec­tion of scarves for CIAF af­ter the pop­u­lar de­signs sold out last year.

Ms Salt said her art­works were in­spired by the sto­ries of Kuku Yalanji el­ders.

“It’s im­por­tant be­cause if you don’t have the el­ders’ knowl­edge, you can’t pass it on (to the younger gen­er­a­tions),” she said.

Ms Salt said she hoped to en­cour­age more Moss­man Gorge res­i­dents to hone their artis­tic abi­ities and keep in touch with their cul­ture.

She said the Moss­man Gorge gate­way project would pro­vide an in­valu­able op­por­tu­nity to sell lo­cal art and cap­i­talise on the tourism dol­lars that are ex­pected to flow into the com­mu­nity.

“The last thing you want is the Gate­way open­ing and things to have ‘made in China’ stick­ers on it,” Ms Salt said.

“Abo­rig­i­nal cul­ture is made in Aus­tralia.”

Kuku Yalanji Dream­time art cen­tre man­ager Jean­nie Heynatz said CIAF was great ex­po­sure for Moss­man Gorge artists.

“There is ob­vi­ously a huge amount of raw po­ten­tial and it’s just a mat­ter of build­ing on that,” she said.

“This has been great be­cause it has pro­vided an op­por­tu­nity to pick up how peo­ple are re­spond­ing to the works in the mar­ket.”

As well as ex­hibit­ing their art­works and sell­ing the scarves at CIAF, the artists also pro­duced a range of dis­tinc­tive green and orange t-shirts in­spired by a tree found only at Moss­man Gorge.

“Art forms should be on any medium,” Ms Salt said. “You can’t wear a can­vas on your body but if you turn it into ma­te­rial you can.”

Renowned Aus­tralian de­signer Linda Jack­son, who lives at Cooya Beach, has been work­ing with the artists on the tex­tiles project for two years.

Photo by HOLLY ROBERT­SON

In de­mand: Kuku Yalanji Dream­time’s Rachael Hodges, arts project co­or­di­na­tor Krissy Thomp­son and artist Pamela Salt

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