Indigenous Business Month | Yalanji Arts Centre


Karlie Brady


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Artist at Work - Andrew Gibson - IA CA facilitated arts development workshop for the Belonging Exhibition 2019. Image: IACA (C) Edwina Circuit.

As Indigenous Business Month continues throughout October, Newsport will be focusing on the growing ranks of successful local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses.

This week’s focus is Bamanga Bubu Ngadimunku (BBN) Aboriginal Corporation's 'Yalanji Arts', an Indigenous art centre located in the Mossman Gorge Aboriginal Community.

Art Centre Manager, Lisa Clarke, said the centre is a space for local indigenous artists to develop their skills and foster their artistic expression.

“Our vision here is “an empowered, united, proud and sustainable community,” so we provide support and advocacy for local artists and assist them in their development through ongoing training and marketing,” Ms Clarke said.

The small team at Yalanji Arts advise the artists on the best way to ensure that Indigenous artists rights, copyright, and indigenous cultural intellectual properties are all maintained to a really high standard.

“We also provide studio space, we provide materials for artists and administration support. We have got great facilities, quality materials and lots of opportunities for artists.”

Opportunities for the local artists include workshops, art fairs, and exhibitions which artists are encouraged to partake in.

“Most recently we had a workshop leading up to the “Belonging” exhibition which is a big group exhibition that will be showcasing all of the Far North Queensland Art Centres and their artists.

“As a part of that we had an incredible facilitator, Edwina Circuit, teach the artists about best quality linen canvas painting with acrylics and using pigments from the earth to mix with the paints,” she said.

Yalanji Artists also participated in the Cairns indigenous art fair where they could display and sell their artwork.

Ms Clarke said the centre is important because it's a place where everybody can come together, meet, share ideas, be inspired, as well as preserve the culture and create economic stability.

“It is space to share and revitalise their culture as well as explore new mediums and techniques to develop skills,” Ms Clarke said.

Yalanji Artist Andrew Gibson said art is a way for him to keep the culture alive for generations to come.

“It’s a platform for us to give our story out, a platform for storytelling, we want to share that to every culture.

“Ourselves as artists have to think what we are going to do. We all are storytellers. What we learn, we have to pass on.”

Another Yalanji Artist, Natascha Czygan, added that “[art and culture] is in our fibres, it’s in our blood, it’s in our genes.”

There are currently 12 artists who are members of the centre, with seven who are actively involved every day using the space.

“The artists are currently all heads down creating a new series of ceramics works to be exhibited at the upcoming exhibition; “Together we tell our stories: indigenous ceramics, glass, fibre + canvas” to be held at the Sabbia Gallery in Sydney in December 2019.

”Yalanji Arts encourages any new artists to come in and get involved to the centre and utilise the space.

“We have a fantastic group of talented and dedicated artists at the moment so the sky's the limit for Yalanji Arts, it’s a really exciting time for us,” Ms Clarke said.

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