TRACQS recently put their impressive creative and artistic talents on show at their annual stand at the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF), held on 6-10 July 2022. Located at the Cairns Convention Centre, CIAF is an opportunity to showcase First Nations culture through traditional and modern art, bringing together a variety of activities across the TRACQS community. The art ranges from visual art on painted boards and tote bags to handcrafted items such as jewellery, clothing and dilly bags.  

This year saw 13 artists from the Kuranda Community take part in CIAF, including TRACQS participants from the Community Development Program (CDP) team. As an annual event, CIAF has been on break during the pandemic. TRACQS Creative Community participants were quick to implement an innovative approach during this time by promoting pieces through our online TRACQS Creative Communities store, which allowed artists to continue their work and have a space to present their products to the public. 

“When CIAF was announced to return in 2022, TRACQS Kuranda participants and locals immediately began to prepare for the event,” said Grace, Indigenous Liaison Officer.  

After discovering that CIAF would go ahead, artists and the TRACQS teams worked hard to prepare products in time. This collaborative process brought together TRACQS activities, including Keeping Our Culture Alive (KOCA), Creative Communities and Custom Culture. 

“What was truly amazing this year was the great collaboration between the CDP activities- KOCA, Custom Culture and Creative Communities,” said Maree, TRACQS Activity Supervisor. 

Artists were mentored on bringing their ideas to life using their existing skills in combination with new technologies available through Custom Culture. This activity offered digital design assistance, production support with printing onto shirts, mugs and tote bags, and help to transport items to CIAF on the day. 

KOCA participants focused on the production of dilly bags and handcrafted works and direct communication with artists. The new handcrafted earring range, available through our TRACQS online store, was in high demand for CIAF, with extensive preparation taken to promote the items on the day. 

Creative Communities provided coordination of the event, digital design and business coordination through label creation, stock management and logistics coordination. They also helped to prepare prints and any final touches that artists needed for their products. 

With the activities working together to produce market-ready products, the artists and participants translated creative ideas into products. Listening to what artists wanted to make and providing a space to explore their ideas allowed their creativity to flow. 

This collaboration was made possible through the creation of Creative Communities and Custom Culture and the hard work of Activity Manager, Lance.  

“Lance was of great help in ensuring materials and equipment were provided to support the creative production spaces in KOCA and Custom Culture,” said Maree. 

TRACQS assisted participants by organising to transport artists’ products and several artists and staff to the venue. The team also arranged for market stalls to be available, covering any logistics and paperwork required.  

“I am super proud of everyone involved in the event,” said Maree. 

“CIAF is uplifting for local Indigenous artists and extremely inspiring. The influence CIAF has cannot be underestimated for an artist’s career.” 

The day was an incredible success for both artists and the community. Bringing together people from all over Cairns, CIAF put a spotlight on the artistic gifts that go into producing the designs representing the deep culture of Kuranda.  

Artists have received insight into just how popular their products were after attendees commented on the beauty of the cultural pieces shown on the day. Many artists involved in CIAF had the opportunity to network with creative organisations both on the day and afterwards, which will provide support for their future careers and businesses.  

We wish the artists every success as they continue to develop and promote their art through the TRACQS online store and local connections in the community.

TRACQS was proud to be a part of CIAF in 2022 and looks forward to coming back next year. 

About the Community Development Program (CDP)  

CDP is an employment program for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in regional, rural and remote Australia to achieve sustainable employment outcomes by strengthening skills, addressing barriers and contributing to their communities through a range of flexible work-like activities.