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ARTisSpectrum | Volume 29 | artisspectrum.com
Cairns, Australia
by Josie Lowerson
A remote location situated thousands of kilometers frommajor capital city art scenes doesn’t necessarily result in a deprivation
of knowledge, innovation or creativity. With the benefit of technology and an international airport, places such as Cairns, in the
far north of Queensland, Australia can easily keep pace with artistic trends from all around the world. Situated in a unique posi-
tion on the tropical coast, Cairns is surrounded by diverse geographical features such as the Great Barrier Reef, World Heritage
listed rainforests, and soaring mountain ranges with outback regions inland of the Tablelands. The climate and pristine loca-
tions attract an extraordinary and diverse group of contemporary visual artists, sculptors, print makers, photographers, graffiti
and performance artists. As a relatively young city in historical terms, Cairns is a place that has shown a willingness to embrace
and appreciate all forms of creative practice. There is a refreshing level of sophistication and cultural awareness amongst those
who practice in this remote area.
In the center of the city, the Cairns Regional Gallery has been the longest running gallery in the area, and has a strong reputa-
tion for bringing major national and international traveling exhibitions to the region. This beautiful old gallery is well respected
for its efforts in forging strong relationships with emerging and established local artists, as well as encouraging young artists
through its innovative educational programs. The CRG also takes pride in promoting local indigenous art, and a large part of
its schedule is devoted to increasing individual profiles.
Forward thinking by local government authorities has resulted in an impressive display of public art on the Esplanade and
around public venues. The airport has an impressive array of cast aluminum sculptures titled “Termite mounds” by indigenous
artist Thancoupie, and the lagoon pool on the beach features “Woven fish” which are stainless steel sculptures by Torres Straits
islander artist Brian Robinson. Public art and graffiti laneways are located all around the city and outlying regions. Artists colo-
nies and private and commercial galleries are also located in Cairns, Kuranda Village, Port Douglas and the Tablelands.
Situated behind the giant “Jelly Babies” sculptures near the center of Cairns is the KickArts Gallery, which is another gallery
that strongly collaborates with contemporary artists and features a myriad of video, performance and visual artists. Strongly
supported by its members, patrons and artists, this gallery strives to support artists who want to push boundaries. Also on the
same site is Djumbanji Press, a printmaking workshop that specializes in the print process, and promotes the huge, intricately
detailed linocuts and etchings produced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander artists.
Cairns is host to one of the largest indigenous art fairs in the world, and each year thousands of interstate and overseas visitors
flock to the area to view the eclectic mix of native cultural art.
The art scene in Cairns and its outlying regions can only be described as fresh and energetic, as it encompasses so many dif-
ferent styles, practices and passions. Artists tend to be extremely well informed and up-to-date with current artistic practices,
as isolation means that individuals cannot restrict themselves to their own environment. It is necessary to inquire, explore,
research and progress in order to grow as an artist and the extensive breadth and diversity of artists in this area is proof that
remoteness is an incentive, not a handicap, to the creative process.
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