Yarrabah visit

Blog by Freja Carmichael

Last week Sophia and I traveled to Yarrabah for kuril dhagun’s upcoming exhibition Jabu Birriny (land and sea). Located on the shore of Cape Grafton in Far North Queensland, Yarrabah is an Aboriginal community surrounded by tropical bush land and mountain ranges that run down to sandy beaches and coral reefs. This was the first time Sophia and I had visited Yarrabah and after flying into Cairns, we drove through the beautiful changing landscapes of cane fields, farmlands, ranges and windy coastal tracks.

We are very excited to be collaborating with Yarrabah Arts and Cultural Centre and Elverina Johnson over the next four months to develop Jabu Birriny (land and sea). Jabu Birriny (pronounced Ja-boo Bir-rin-ee) will celebrate the ongoing importance of the land and sea to Yarrabah community and the exhibition will share many stories through  diverse mediums.


Prior to visiting, we researched the SLQ collection for material connected to Yarrabah. Photographic images were uncovered relating to daily life and the landscape during the period of Yarrabah mission. These images were shared during our meeting and  many of the photographs provoked conversation, where memories of people and places were shared. Some of these collection items will be woven into the exhibition through their relationship with artists and their works.

Yarrabah artists are well known for their distinct weaving, ceramics, textiles and prints. Being big admirers of their work, it was an honour to spend time with the artists and hear about what they have been up to. In a month’s time, Cairns Indigenous Art Fair takes place. This is annual celebration and many of us make the journey up north. There was a lot of excitement in the air for this year’s program and we look forward to seeing Yarrabah’s contributions and other Queensland art centres and individual artists involved.

Whilst in Yarrabah, we also had the opportunity to visit Yarrabah Indigenous knowledge Centre and see their library. We really enjoyed our time in Yarrabah and look forward to our next visit. Special thanks to Darrell Harris, Philomena Yeatman, Edna Ambrym, Valmai Pollard, Elverina Johnson, Finanin Richards, Ruben Ambrym and Elizabeth Hunter for your time!

Keep an eye out when we launch our new community exhibition in late October 2017.