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Independent First Nations artists to shine at Cairns Indigenous Art Fair

Phoebe Blogg -

In addition to their textile and design program BLOOM, the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) is also hosting their new CATAPULT program in 2024.

This year's CATAPULT program recipient has been announced as talented Badu Island artist, Matilda Nona.

Developed by CIAF over the course of a two-year pilot program - before officially launching in November 2023 with an Expression of Interest phase - CATAPULT is an annual accelerator and showcase program for Queensland's First Nations artists.

Striving to support the artists and provide them will additional opportunities, education and financial support, Badu Island artist Matilda Nona was thrilled to be named the first CATAPULT program recipient.

"I've been practising art across many mediums for some time now, and I'm ready to explore more," artist Matilda Nona said.

"Over the next few months, I'll be working with arts industry professionals, which is an opportunity I'm grateful for and is a wish for all remote and regional artists."

With Nona's art practice primarily observing maternal ceremonies with imagery drawn from land and sea, she brings something different to both CIAF and the CATAPULT program.

CATAPULT program 2024 recipient Matilda Nona. (Image: supplied)

CIAF's Artistic Director Francoise Lane said CATAPULT is an exciting new addition to the organisation's strategic programming and forms part of an ambitious four-year plan that will enrich Queensland's First Nations arts movement by providing much-needed support to the increasing number of talented, independent artists.

"CATAPULT is what its name implies, a platform for independent artists to leverage a range of opportunities," said Ms Lane said.

Lane said CATAPULT comprises two streams. The first, of which Matilda Nona is a recipient, focuses on career development, while the second part provides a showcase opportunity for several independent artists to exhibit at CIAF.

Recipients in the CATAPULT showcase group are Melissa Stannard, Matilda Nona, Arabella Walker, Joel Sam, Robert Tommy Pau, Cathy Snow, Libby Harward, Obery Sambo, Delvene Cockatoo-Collins and Tori-Jay Mordey.

CIAF's Artistic Director Francoise Lane. (Image: supplied)

On the brink of an exciting new growth phase, this program and the overall CIAF event are furthering Queensland's vibrant First Nations arts-scape and continuing to shine a light on Indigenous talent.

Without the assistance of CATAPULT several artists may incur financial difficulties, thus CATAPULT is CIAF's way of supporting these artists and ensuring their work does get circulated and supported amongst not just the community but Australia.

"While many artists are associated and supported in their endeavour by an art centre, there are an equal number of solo artists whose work, while exhibition ready, cannot be showcased at events such as ours due to the rising costs involved in doing so," Ms Lane said.

"CATAPULT is CIAF's way of supporting these artists and ensuring their work does not go unnoticed, but rather, is shared with the world."

CIAF 2023. (Image: supplied)

Supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, CIAF's CATAPULT program will see participating 2024 artists present new work for exhibition within the CIAF Art Fair alongside 25 industry exhibitors, including commercial galleries, local galleries, established independent artists, and art centres.

Participants can exhibit and sell their work and participate in crucial networking events with buyers, VIPs, collectors, and curators during CIAF.

The 2024 CIAF CATAPULT cohort is an incredibly talented and diverse group of artists showcasing exciting new work and expanding creative boundaries.

The funding supports the opportunity to broaden the artist's practice, create new and ambitious work, and connect with valuable industry contacts.

Applicants are also required to dedicate six months to completing the Professional Development Package.

Behind the scenes at CIAF 2023. (Image: supplied)

In its 14-year history, CIAF has provided career pathways and economic, social, and emotional well-being outcomes to thousands of Indigenous artists, designers, and performers, and the addition of several new programs in 2024 is bound to see the opportunity and exposure for First Nations artists grow.

Cairns Indigenous Art Fair 2024 will be held from 25-28 July, 2024.

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