In celebration of NAIDOC week (6-11 November 2020), the Australian High Commission in India will host its first ever exhibition and event program showcasing Queensland’s Indigenous art and culture.

Through its Consulate-General in Chennai, a university city, it is anticipated that all students undertaking Australian studies will participate.

Presented by Arts Nexus in conjunction with Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF), the NAIDOC week exhibitions, feature art works from Indigenous art centres and independent artists of Far North Queensland and the Torres Strait.  Artworks on show will be from the collections that formed CIAF’s 2020 climate change themed Art Fair and Undercurrents – Cook 2020 showcase.

In highlighting and observing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ history, culture and achievements, this year’s annual NAIDOC week* carries the theme, ‘Always Was – Always Will Be’ encompassing connection to country, heritage and rightful ownership.

*NAIDOC Week 2020 was moved from July to November in response to COVID regulations.

The NAIDOC exhibition and event program will be officially opened today from 4pm AEST with an online Welcome to Country ceremony from representatives of the Gimuy Walubara Yidinji and Yirrganydji Nation, the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the Cairns Region. CIAF Chair, Tom Mosby, Artistic Director Janina Harding, and Australia’s High Commissioner to India, The Hon Barry O’Farrell AO, will be featured as part of the program. 

CIAF Artistic Director Janina Harding said the opportunity to partner with Arts Nexus in presenting Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island art and culture fits neatly within the organisation’s 2020 – 2024 Strategic Plan to build international relationships, profile and awareness for Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture.

“This exciting online partnership will develop the great inroads made in August this year when CIAF presented its first digital program.  The series of qualitative and quantitative outcomes that transpired underscored the importance of retaining an online presence for future events,” Ms Harding said.

Attendees can receive a videoconference link by emailing


The exhibition and all other events will be live online for two weeks/three weekends, from 6-22 November

Alongside the exhibition, the Consulate-General is crafting a calendar engagement, including;

Friday 6 November – Opening event    4 pm (AEST) / 11.30am (IST)

Guest speakers: High Commissioner (India), Chairperson CIAF (Australia), introduction to the online exhibition by Artistic Director CIAF (Cairns) will feature the 2020 CIAF Fashion Showcase. 

6 – 22 November – Online Galleries

Attend the online galleries and look around the CIAF website and Facebook to see First Nation Australian culture presented by local creatives.

Sunday 8 November – Emily Wurramara in Concert

A virtual live concert and community spotlight performances including Zennith (Kuranda) and Merindi Schrieber (Cairns).

9 – 11 November: Conversations across the continents:  A series of panels discussing cultural linkages between Australian and Indian artists hosted by Arts Nexus (Far North Qld). 

Please note: speakers may be subject to change

Monday  9  November  4:30pm (AEST) / 12noon (IST)

TOPIC ONE : Politics of Language The importance of language.  Communicating is one function.  Maintaining Culture is another function of Language.  The panel of guest speakers will explore the implications of a unified language and could we give it a new name, reflecting the global community that speaks it and how does language relate?

PANEL: Warren Clements (Tropical Arts – Shakespeare at the Tanks), Regina Turner (Torres Strait Writers Network), Sandi Taylor (Cairns Tropical Writers Festival), Vikram Sridhar (Bangalore Writers Festival).

Tuesday 10 November  4:30pm (AEST) / 12noon (IST)

TOPIC TWO: CULTURAL EXCHANGE and its role in soft power.What does it mean for First Nation aboriginals from any country, to cross the oceans and visit other First Nation peoples living on other Continents? Aspirations for a post-CoVID time that will come in time. 

PANEL: Ian RT Colless (Australia Council of the Arts Custodians Program), Diat Alferink (Torres Strait Radio and performer), Sean Choolburra (Comedian, Dancer), Reena Dewan (Centre for Creativity, Kolkata), Ruby Hembrom (indigenous cultural documentarian and practitioner, and the founder of adivaani (first voices).

Wednesday 11 November  4:30pm (AEST) / 12noon (IST)

TOPIC THREE  When will I see you again:   Artists responding to CoVID.  What have people been doing during this time – some in isolation, others in lockdown.  Networks – keeping us connected.  How has this helped and will Zoom replace travel for relationship building.  What are the benefits.

PANEL: Cairns Indigenous Arts Fair representative, Ruchira (Kolkata, Think Arts), Dipto Rao and Rahsmi Chanwani (Arts Culture Resources India / The ArtXCo).