Far North Queensland
Brief notes

After a few days in Brisbane, we drove north to Buderim, Peregian, Noosa and Yandina on the Sunshine Coast and the hinterland. Then we headed up to Far North Queensland.

      Early morning, Cairns, QLD July 2006

This year Cairns was the focus city for NAIDOC WEEK (a week of celebrations organised by the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee).
We were in Kuranda, north west of Cairns, on July 6th for their celebrations and the next day we attended the big gathering on the esplanade park beside the Cairns waterfront.

      Warranbi (Welcome) Dance and Cassowary Dance, Kuranda, July 2006

In Cairns we visited a couple of Indigenous art exhibitions that were also part of NAIDOC week.

        Print by Joey Laifoo, 2006

Gatherings, a survey exhibition of works by Queensland Indigenous Artists including Arone Meeks, Joey Laifoo and others is on at Kick Arts in the Centre Of Contemporary Arts, or COCA. The impressively huge woodcuts in this exhibition are stunning.

Gatherings catalogue launch
Book Launch: 5:00pm Wednesday 26 July 2006 TBC
Exhibition continues: to Saturday 5 August 2006
Time: 10:am - 5:00pm Tuesday to Saturday
Where: KickArts Lower Gallery
Price: Free Entry, All Welcome

Over at the Cairns Regional Gallery there was an exhibition of responses to and re-interpretations of nineteenth century King breastplates called Unreal Shields. The work here was by a range of Indigenous artists who had participated in etching workshops at Cairns TAFE and Banggu Minjaany Centre earlier this year. Crescent-shaped brass breastplates were conferred by the Australian government in the nineteenth century to acknowledge the leadership and authority of the wearer.
The photo here is of six year old Jager Kemp,the great great great grandson of 'King Billy' Jagar, a Yirriganydji elder of the Barron River, north west of Cairns and of 'King Billy' himself - both wearing the breastplate from 1898.
Breastplates were first introduced by Governor Macquarie of New South Wales around 1815. They can be read as a means of controlling Indigenous people. To quote from Macquarie's set of instructions to the 'Native Institution' in Parramatta, Sydney - That the Natives should be divided into District Tribes and that each Tribe should elect its own chief, who the Governor will distinguish by some honorary badge . The chief or, more usually, 'King', was then to be held accountable for the general conduct and reconciling of any grievances within his tribe.

        'King Billy' Jagar, a Yirriganydji elder, 1925

        Catalogue Cover - Unreal Shields

This is a complex, very moving and diverse exhibition. The artists have used the motif of the breastplate to tell stories of their own.

        Kisai Dhibadid by Dennis Nona, Badu Island (he now lives in Brisbane)

Dennis Nona writes about his etching -Before the mission times, Badu Island warriors made head-hunting raids on other islands. So fast were their canoes, they were likened to the very fast Kuparik bird. Their image was often carved into the prows of their canoes

Meanwhile, as regular reading revealed, the redoubtable Cairns Post seemed to be on another planet entirely.

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