The IACA Members Conference at Mission Beach 26-28 October was hosted by Girringun Aboriginal Art Centre. It was a full agenda - we celebrated 10 years of IACA, our first graduating class of IACA Indigenous Artsworker Program (IIAP) participants, the launch of the publication Belonging / Stories from Far North Queensland, and farewelled inaugural Manager Pam Bigelow. After a hectic couple COVID years, members thoroughly enjoyed Mission Beach and its access to the beach and rainforest.
On Day 1 we all travelled to the Girringun art studio where artists and staff welcomed us, showed us behind-the-scenes, and facilitated a fun weaving workshop. After a delicious lunch in the shady studio grounds, the tour continued to the Girringun Aboriginal Corporation in Cardwell where members explored the retail gallery, Knowledge Centre and were given an insight into the Girringun Nursery and Ranger program.
Day 2 kicked-off with the IACA AGM where the 2021-22 IACA Management Committee was elected. New appointments to the Committee include Joann Russo in the role of President, Adam Boyd as Treasurer and Nephi Denham as a new committee member. Following our Members Meeting, the inaugural IACA Indigenous Artsworker Program (IIAP) participants were able to celebrate their graduation after months of COVID event cancellations. Congratulations to Nephi Denham, Bereline Loogatha, Florence Gutchen, Junibel Doughboy, Jessica Creek and Vanessa Cannon for giving their final presentations, completing the course, and paving the way for the continuation of this professional development program. The celebrations continued as members received first release copies of the Belonging / Stories from Far North Queensland book.
In the afternoon, Jennifer Kalionis gave an update on the latest from Arts QLD, which was followed by the art centre presentations, always a favourite with the crowd. Members bonded over their shared experiences and celebrated each other’s successes. The member’s dinner was extra special as the 10th Anniversary of IACA was commemorated with an image slideshow and heartfelt speeches praising how far the organisation had come in its first decade. The speeches extended to warmly wish IACA’s inaugural Manager Pam Bigelow farewell and the Board presented her with a gift in the form of a Ku (dog) sculpture by Leo Namponan from Aurukun.
On the final day of the conference, curators Katina Davidson and Sophia Sambono from QAGOMA presented on the collection and exhibition strategies of the galleries in Brisbane, opening the door to future collaborations between the institution and art centres. To finish the program, delegates travelled to Mungalla Station near Ingham. Mungalla is a resource owned by the Nywaigi traditional owners for the purpose of fostering Aboriginal cultural values by building economic and cultural opportunities through the careful use of Country. At Mungalla delegates were given a tour of the wetlands, the history of the station, and the harrowing and important ‘Captive Lives’ exhibition in the old homestead.
Main image credit: IACA Members Conference 10th Anniversary dinner