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National Indigenous Art Fair to showcase nation's diverse Aboriginal culture

Rhiannon Clarke -

Back for its fourth season with a new festival program packed with Indigenous art, design, food and cultural performances, the National Indigenous Art Fair (NAIF) commences on Saturday.

NAIF is devoted to celebrating the diverse range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture from across Australia and highlighting excellence in Indigenous performance.

"The art fair and festival program are designed to welcome, educate and engage visitors. It's an occasion to meet remote community artists and hear their stories," said Peter Cooley, CEO of First Hand Solutions Aboriginal Corporation, organisers of the art fair.

"It's also a time to see some incredible performances and immerse yourself in the oldest continuous living cultures in the world. We make sure there's something there for everyone to enjoy."

The NIAF provides collectors and visitors with a rare opportunity to buy ethical, authentic art directly from remote and regional artists.

Each year, alongside 60 stalls representing remote Indigenous Art Centres and Blak Markets stallholders, there is a vibrant festival program where early arrivals on both mornings will be able to participate in Indigenous smoking ceremonies.

There will be First Nations live music and dance performances, a massive and colourful communal weaving project, art workshops, panel discussions, bush tucker cooking experiences and talks, and children's storytelling, craft and dance workshops.

(Image: supplied, National Indigenous Art Fair)

Over the two days, visitors will enjoy singing performances by Barayagal, Radical Son andBow and Arrow. This year's dancers are from the Djiriba Waagura Aboriginal Dance Group and Mui Mui Bumer Gedlam Dance Group from the Eastern Islands of the Torres Strait.

The Barayagal choir is an intercultural collective of 21 singers that gathers to sing songs of culture and stories at cultural events. Directed by Gamilaraay songwriter Nardi Simpson, they sing to the place they are in and the places they all come from.

"We're excited to have Barayagal coming to our art fair to create the most beautiful singing and harmony in an atmospheric setting," said Mr Cooley.

This year, the NIAF will also present a special 20-minute performance from Juluwarlu Aboriginal Corporation, interpreting one of the five creation stories through movement and music from the desert of Western Australia.

Radical Son is a soul, hip hop, rapper and spoken word artist from NSW. His music is inspired and guided by his Indigenous heritage from the Kamilaroi nation of Australia and the South Pacific island of Tonga.

Bow and Arrow are a contemporary First Nations electro-soul trio with Wirajurdi, Ngunawal and Gamilaraay heritage. Their music is inspired by stories from The Dreaming.

The cultural dance group Djiriba Waagura (the name means Two Crows), from the NSW South Coast, is known for providing captivating and energetic dance performances and cultural experiences that inspire connectedness.

Mui Mui Bumer Gedlam Dance Group (which translates as deep sounds from home) performs traditional and contemporary Torres Strait Island dances.

For people keen on craft, there's a chance to work alongside remote community and local Indigenous weavers on a communal weaving project, woven over the two days of the art fair.

(Image: supplied, National Indigenous Art Fair.)

Larry Brandy, a proud Wirajurdi man, storyteller and author, will lead the children's storytelling sessions over the weekend with his energetic and interactive performances, where children will become kangaroos, emus and hunters as they learn how Indigenous people hunted and found food in earlier times.

Place Management NSW will also be presenting a children's workshop on the Sunday at Cadmans Cottage Forecourt. There will be interactive dance and cultural adornment and face painting workshops for children by Jannawi Dance Clan.

Meanwhile, the team from IndigiGrow will run children's planting workshops where they mix their own soil, pot a native plant and take it home after learning how to care for it.

With other features include cooking demonstrations of some flavourful dishes using Australian bush foods and native spices and food trucks that will deliver a delicious atmosphere, with fresh flavours from the BBQ.

"The art fair is always a great day out for people of all ages. It's also a wonderful way to begin celebrating NAIDOC Week which is all about Indigenous culture and achievement," Mr Cooley said.

The National Indigenous Art Fair will be held from Saturday 1 July to Sunday 2 July from 10am-5pm at the overseas passenger terminal at The Rocks in Sydney.

More information including the event schedule can be found on the National Indigenous Art Fair website.

Remote Art Centres attending NIAF 2023

Artists of Ampilatwatja Aboriginal Corporation, Ampilatwatja, NT

Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation, Yuendumu, NT

Walkatjara Art, Uluru, NT

Ikuntji Artists Aboriginal Corporation, Haasts Bluff, NT

Maruku Arts, Uluru, NT

Injalak Arts, West Arnhem Land, NT

Bula'Bula Arts, Ramingining, NT

Anindilyakwa Arts, Groote Eylandt, NT

Marrawuddi Arts & Culture,Jabiru, NT

Munupi Art, Melville Island, NT

Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts, Gapuwiyak, NT

Durrmu Arts, Peppimenarti, NT

Babbarra Women's Centre, Maningrida, NT

Barkly Regional Arts, Tennant Creek, NT

Papunya Tjupi Arts, Papunya, NT

Jilamara Arts and Crafts Association,Tiwis, NT

UMI Arts, Cairns,QLD

Girringun Aboriginal Art Centre, Cardwell, QLD

Wik & Kugu Arts Centre, Aurukun, QLD

Tjarlirli and Kaltukatjara Art, Ngaanyatjarra Lands,WA

Cheeditha Art Group, Roebourne, WA

Minyma Kutjara Arts Project, Irrunytju, WA

Nagula Jarndu, Broome, WA

Juluwarlu Art Group, West Pilbara, WA

APY Art Centre Collective, SA

NSW art collectives

Aboriginal Regional Arts Alliance

Baarka

Yarrawarra Aboriginal Cultural Centre

Kemarre Arts (ACT)

28 and more NSW Blak Markets stallholders

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