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The Cairns Convention Centre has marked the formalisation of their commitment to reconciliation, with the Centre engaging local artist, Elverina Johnson, to create an artwork for the Centre as part of their Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) journey.

The Centre is committed to the reconciliation journey by turning ideas into actions and taking the first steps towards reconciliation. The Cairns Convention Centre’s vison for reconciliation is to create an environment that provides opportunities for First Nations people, to educate delegates from all over the globe about the land the Centre is located on and to show respect for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.

Through an expression of interest process, in partnership with Northsite Contemporary Arts Gallery, Elverina Johnson was selected to create a commissioned piece of artwork to be displayed in the Cairns Convention Centre’s entry foyer.  Hamish Sawyer, Artistic Director, NorthSite, Richard Coulson, Director, Cox Architects, and Francoise Lane, Artistic Director, CIAF made up the independent selection panel.

Elverina Johnson is a Gungganji Gurugulu and Gimuy Walubara Yidinji artist from Yarrabah in Far North Queensland. Her traditional family name is Bunya Badjil, which means ‘Good Woman’. She is a multidisciplinary artist, and practices in the fields of visual arts, music, and performance. Her unique painting style is bright and bold and often depicts the beauty of Yarrabah’s land and sea. Her work expresses a deep and innate understanding of Country and honours the traditions and stories belonging to her culture and ancestral homelands.

Already widely celebrated for her art, contribution to the creative industry and her work in the community, Elverina is a recipient of major civic awards, including the Rona Tranby Trust Award and the State of Queensland’s Smart Women Smart State Award for Community Innovation. Elverina was also awarded the National NAIDOC Artist of the Year in 2017 and the Yarrabah International Women’s Day Woman of the Year in 2018. Elverina has also represented her community at the United Nations, highlighting issues facing Indigenous women and is a Graduate and Fellow of the Australian Rural Leadership Program.

Janet Hamilton, General Manager Cairns Convention Centre, commented about the Centre’s steps to reconciliation.

“We believe that reconciliation is an important step in acknowledging the past and building a better future. The process of reconciliation is an ongoing journey that involves commitment and collaboration.”

“We are looking forward to working with Elverina on promoting her talent and displaying a dedicated piece of artwork in the Centre to begin our Reflect RAP,” added Hamilton.

The commissioned artwork will be showcased in the entry to the new expansion and will be a wonderful edition to the First Nations art collection displayed throughout the Centre. The Queensland Government, who delivered the $176 million refurbishment and expansion, have provided funding for the artwork project to promote inclusion with the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and to support the Centre’s reconciliation journey.

Tourism Minister and Member for Cairns, Michael Healy commented on Centre’s appointment.

“It certainly is fitting that ASM Global has commissioned an artist of Elverina’s high standing to create a First Nations work of art to welcome visitors to the new-look Cairns Convention Centre.

“The State Government invested $176 million to upgrade and expand this world-class facility and, although it’s been open for less than 12 months, it is already proving to be a massive boost to tourism and trade across the Tropical North, attracting world-class events.”

Speaker of Parliament and Member for Mulgrave, Curtis Pitt commented about the importance of the Centre taking these steps.

“This announcement is especially significant as Queenslanders recently celebrated National Reconciliation Week.

“I’m sure the choice to commission Elverina will be warmly welcomed by everyone across the Tropical North, including the 1000 local workers and all the local businesses who helped bring this fantastic facility’s refurbishment and expansion to completion.”