Gorge artists in class of their own
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.
In demand: Kuku Yalanji Dreamtime’s Rachael Hodges, arts project coordinator Krissy Thompson and artist Pamela Salt