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Indigenous Design Labs' 21st century storytelling showcased in new exhibition

Dechlan Brennan -

Indigenous Design Labs (IDL) is working to break new ground by amalgamating artificial intelligence (AI) into their creative process, which can be seen in a new exhibit in Cairns on now.

"I Am Here" is a testament to the tapestry of Indigenous belonging, as well as the threads of cultural heritage, and is woven into the life stories of Elders.

Held at the Court House Gallery, the exhibit aims to highlight the "true spirit of belonging through real-time connections with those who carry the wisdom of the past".

Leigh Harris, Aboriginal designer and co-founder of IDL, said whilst IDL was still a work in progress, they were doing "amazing work locally and nationally."

"This exhibition connects these young people back to our elders and importantly shows them and others who view it that we must never lose connection to them, they are at the heart of our belonging."

IDL notes: "The result is a mesmerising dance of shared experiences and timeless journeys, capturing the essence of Indigenous cultures in a way that transcends the boundaries of conventional artistic expression."

"The integration of AI into traditional artistic forms represents more than just a technological leap; it signifies a bridge between the wisdom of the past and the creativity of the future."

The team at IDL have been guided by Indigenous mentors and have spent the last five years pushing the boundaries of Indigenous creativity. IDL says their work has not gone unnoticed, having the chance to work with leading Australian brands MECCA, Target, The EVT Group, Cairns Regional Council, and The Starlight Foundation.

Cairns Mayor Terry James said the exhibit is a testament to the council's desire to preserve culture and showcase diversity.

"The innovative exhibition focussed strongly on knowledge building through creative mentorships, as well as the passing of cultural knowledge from Elders to younger generations," he said.

"The opportunity for young creatives to learn from First Nations mentors and connect with Elders has been viewed as just as important as the final exhibition itself."

Organisers believe that as IDL continues its evolution, it can act as an example to both the adaptability and resilience of Indigenous cultures, especially faced with increasing technological advancements. IDL's work - both locally and nationally - seeks to contribute to a creative landscape, as well as the preservation and promotion of Indigenous knowledge and perspectives in new ways.

IDL says the exhibition is a testament to the enduring strength of Indigenous cultures, demonstrating that, with the right blend of tradition and innovation, the past can coexist harmoniously with the future.

'I Am Here' in on at Court House Gallery (38 Abbott Street, Cairns) runs from Friday 12 January to Saturday 2 March.

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