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May 3, 2019 - Indigenous arts specialists top forum agenda

Award-winning artists and guest speakers from around the country will feature at the Gumbugan Indigenous Arts Forum to be held in Innisfail as part of Cassowary Coast Reconciliation Week celebrations at the end of this month.

Coordinator and in-demand Indigenous consultant and exhibition curator and designer Trish Barnard, who now lives at Bingil Bay, and dance legend and actor Raymond Blanco, who has returned to live in Innisfail, are among an impressive line-up of arts practitioners who will share their expertise during the May 31 and June 1 forum and workshop program.

“The Gumbugan Indigenous Arts Forum will provide our local Indigenous artists with face-to-face opportunities with key industry arts workers and workshop activities,” Ms Barnard said.

“It has been developed in response to things the community wanted to know about. Most are concerned about copyright issues and opportunities to sell their art, licensing of products or trying to express themselves in different mediums.”

Sessions will be held on Copyright, Making Art Work, Telling Stories (in print or film) and ‘Our Way’, and Funding and how to get it. Dance workshops will be facilitated by a range of talented artists, including Terrell Mara and Elders, Waangenga Blanco, Marilyn Miller and Raymond Blanco.

“Successful artists have been able to try out all different mediums so we have a couple of artists telling participants about their artistic journeys. Most artists around Innisfail don’t have any connections with existing galleries and centres. It is hard for artists to get access to information and training because they are not part of an Indigenous arts centre,” Ms Barnard said.

“These artists don’t have access to workshops or know how to network and get connected and to be on the mailing list for when workshops are on. Artists in small centres are not privileged to have that access. We want to show them how.

“The other thing is we are having Indigenous speakers who have experience and expertise in the industry. They will present from an Indigenous perspective and that makes it easier and more comfortable for local artists to approach the speakers because they can relate. This forum will help local artists to have the confidence to move forward and produce art and an income from the basis of where their passion lies and create a good network foundation.”

Ms Barnard is a descendent of the Yambina people from Central Queensland and has 40 years’ experience in the fashion and arts industry. She runs her Indigenous Research Consultancy from her Cassowary Coast home and is a researcher and exhibition creator. She also looks after the Material Culture Collection at James Cook University. 

She was delighted that Arterial Design, with whom she had worked in researching and creating a digital billabong as part of the Waltzing Matilda Centre which opened in Winton in April last year, had just won an international design award in Los Angeles for that project. 

“It is a very successful exhibit and is the only museum in Australia that pays homage to a song,” she said.

Ms Barnard knows the Cassowary Coast region well. She grew up in Townsville and spent many weekends at Wongaling Beach.

“I thought after 40 years I would come back to Mission Beach and grow flowers or veges or something but I still end up with projects.  I always knew that one day I would come back.”

Cassowary Coast Regional Council Community Development Officer Kath Hansen said the Council was delighted to be able to engage Ms Barnard to create the forum, the first of its kind on the Cassowary Coast.