A safe space for creation and collaboration, Camera Mob is Cairns’ newest Indigenous-led and focused community group.
Presented by Murri academic and creative Jenny Fraser, Camera Mob is a fortnightly yarning circle that brings together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander creatives and International First Nations peoples who work with all kinds of cameras.
“A couple of Aboriginal cinematographers and I have had meetings before in Cairns. I decided to open it up to all camera people, so we’re finding our own family, building our own Camera Mob,” Fraser told NIT.
In creating Camera Mob, Fraser hopes to continues the work her great-grandfather did.
“We’re doing it mainly because no one else is really doing it … art initiatives usually don’t include Cairns,” she said.
“My great-grandfather, he was a drover and mail delivery to Borroloola. He’d come back to Cairns and develop his own photos in his darkroom in Cairns. I’m trying to keep that energy alive.”
The group had their first official meeting on Monday at Kgari 3 Sisters Art Gallery. They began their journey with a Smoking Ceremony by Yidinji artist Henry Fourmile and hosted Far North Queensland Documentary Photographer, Kerry Trapnell.
The group intends to meet fortnightly and host yarning circles that facilitate growth, respect and empowerment. They will also host pop-up events, screenings and workshops.
“We’re trying to make a culturally safe space so people can generate their ideas and still own them at the same time,” Fraser said.
“That was a huge success on Monday, we all got to share and learn insight from each other instead of someone just talking at us as an expert. We get to learn from other people.”
Fraser hopes the space can facilitate deep conversations about occupation, sovereignty and identity.
“As a creative myself, I’m interested in developing my own projects, but also inviting in other Indigenous people from other countries who are based here. Cairns is very multicultural, so we want to create a space where we can have those international discussions,” she said.
“This is all self-funded, we are trying to decolonise and be sovereign people. But we are open to being sponsored.”
Camera Mob will meet on Thursday and Friday for a three-hour workshop with Māori filmmaker and scriptwriter, Kewana Duncan.
“I’m going to help wherever I can, do whatever is useful! I think it’s going to be a good yarn circle and a place for everyone to share their projects and get support and ideas,” Duncan said.
“Grassroots programs are so important. Getting funding is great, but if you don’t that won’t stop it. It’s such a good way to connect with community and make the biggest change.”
Duncan incorporates First Nations ways of being within his creative process and work practices, and hopes to share and receive more wisdom during the workshops.
“I just really wanted to do something meaningful for Indigenous media here,” he said.
“The biggest thing for me around Camera Mob is that you’re creating a safe space for people to talk about their projects, amongst other Indigenous people and as a grassroots project or initiative that is focused on Indigenous storytelling.
“I support it because it’s where people in the community can help make big change.”
By Rachael Knowles