Stunning reef fish installation now on permanent show at Cairns Airport

Celebrating its unveiling today (Thursday 18 August 2022), a striking sculptural installation comprising seven ‘ghostnet’ fish of the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns Airport’s T2 domestic terminal is destined to both surprise and delight visitors.

Spanning several metres, the stunning reef inspired artwork is the creation of seven artists from Pormpuraaw Art & Culture Centre and is the first Public Art Commissioning Project realised in a collaboration between Cairns Airport and Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF).

Cairns Airport is one of CIAF’s longest serving corporate partners which is a relationship that works hard to leverage its tourism platform promoting awareness and recognition of Far North Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and arts.

In positioning itself as an important centre for Indigenous cultural expression through commissioning, interpreting, maintaining, and promoting public art of the highest quality, Cairns Airport considers today’s public artwork unveiling a successful outcome and extension of its CIAF partnership.

Cairns Airport Chief Executive Officer Richard Barker said the eye-catching installation would undoubtedly be a popular addition to the terminal, both for locals and visitors to the region. 

“Cairns Airport is the gateway to the culture-rich Cape York and Torres Strait Islands,” Mr Barker said.

“Showcasing this amazing artwork in our terminal sets the tone for tourists visiting our region and recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture as one of the most unique and important elements of living and holidaying in Far North Queensland.”

“We are proud to continue our partnership with CIAF in a way that physically celebrates and promotes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and art,” he said.

Over the past 13 years CIAF has welcomed approximately 300,000 visitors from the Far North, Australia and abroad, to experience Queensland’s two very distinct First Peoples’ cultures.

CIAF Artistic Director Francoise Lane said CIAF values the support of Cairns Airport and the economic value the commissioning project has brought to artists in remote Indigenous communities.

“In working together with Cairns Airport, we are well placed to achieve great things for our artists and indeed, everyone who converges in Cairns – not just for our annual event, but all year round,” Ms Lane said.

According to Paul Jakubowski, the Manager of Pormpuraaw Art & Culture Centre Incorporated, the large-scale ‘ghostnet’ sculptures are made from retrieved, discarded fishing nets and are key to highlighting the vital role Traditional Owners and artists play in addressing issues facing the endangered marine life of the Great Barrier Reef.

“Pormpuraaw is honoured to share their art and culture in this way.  For the community, who are a saltwater people, this art work is very special because it celebrates their living oceans,” Mr Jakubowski said.

CIAF works collaboratively with sponsors to strengthen and celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and culture.  CIAF offers a genuine partnership with ethical, cultural experiences to reinforce the sponsor’s commitment to Reconciliation and Corporate Social Responsibility.

Featured artists are Mavis Ngok Thaathunpum Benjamin, Mylene Holroyd, Christine Holroyd, Alma Norman, Kim Norman, Marlene Norman & Syd Bruce Shortjoe.  Sculptures represent barramundi, coral trout, red lion fish, potato cod, surgeon fish and Moorish idol.