Carving Country

Indigenous Prints from the Collection

20 Jan –
29 Feb 2024

Since early European settlement the landscape and environment have occupied a central place in Australian art. However, long before the arrival of Europeans, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were interpreting and recording aspects of their land through song, art, dance, and ceremony. 

Carving Country: Indigenous Prints from the Collection celebrates the rich and unique visual culture of First Nation artists from the region, through works in the Cairns Art Gallery Collection.

Far North Queensland is a vast region bounded by rainforest clad mountains to the west, and turquoise-blue oceans and sprawling reef systems to the east. These two worlds are rich in exotic flora and fauna which continue to be a source of inspiration for artists. Through linocuts, vinyl cuts, screen prints, etchings, and lithographs works in the exhibition speak about custodianship of country and the importance of winds, weather and seasons; hunting and gathering; and objects infused with cultural significance.

Seasons and their markers are recorded by Guugu Yimithirr artist Roy McIvor (1934–2018) in his works Bubu Gunbi ‘Dry’ (Earth Blood) and Buurraraay Milbaal ‘Wet’ (Water-Tears-Renewal). They capture the colours and patterns associated with the lead up to the wet season – from the burning-off of the parched land to the onset of the final deluging rains.

In his print Totemic Cycle 1997, Badu Island artist Robert Mast records the seasons and times of year for fishing and hunting, as well as mating and migratory cycles of marine animals and birds that abound in the region.

Carving Country showcases the richness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander visual arts practice and provides a unique insight into contemporary printmaking by artists whose works are grounded in traditional cultural practices.  Using modern day tools and materials they have created a particular style and art form that is now nationally and internationally acclaimed.


Brian Robinson
Consultant Curator



 Selected Works


Installation Images



Ainga Uthuy Mabaig  2006
coloured linocut
30 x 28.5 cm 
Courtesy of Yarrenyty Arltere Artists
Purchased by Cairns Regional Gallery with the assistance of Robina Cosser, 2006


The Cairns Art Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which we work and live. We pay our respects to Elders past and present. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images, names or voices of deceased persons in photographs, film or text.