Contemporary Indigenous Textiles

From Australia's Tropic Zone

5 Jun –
5 Sep 2021

Community-led Aboriginal Art Centres in the Northern Territory first explored screen-printed textiles as a new creative medium in the 1960s. Today, these textiles are a nationally and internationally acclaimed form of cultural expression that provides sustainable economic, cultural, and social benefits to Indigenous artists, art centres and their communities.

Indigenous textile screen-printing is a dynamic art form that transcends the realm of simple utilitarianism. Rather, it inhabits a previously undefined space between the commonplace and the sacred. As a creative medium it brings together elements of art, design, fashion and craft, resulting in a unique art form that is accessible, adaptive and reproducible.

Indigenous artists who live and work in remote communities use a range of media including three-dimensional woven or carved objects, and two-dimensional works on bark, canvas, paper, and cloth. When working in textiles, these artists often impart the same strong cultural content and spirituality to cloth as they do to other more highly priced and celebrated artforms. The materiality and physical qualities of cloth also provides them with accessible pathways to share storylines about ancestral beings and country, identity, material culture, and life forms that include bush foods, animals, birds and marine life.

This exhibition reveals the specialised processes of design concepts through to production and shows how the aesthetic, cultural, and commercial significance of Indigenous screen-printed textiles contributes to the strength and sustainability of remote community enterprises in remote communities across north Australia.

A Cairns Art Gallery exhibition
Presented at the Court House Gallery - 38 Abbott st, Cairns

Please note, The Court House Gallery is open Tuesday - Saturday 10am - 4pm




This exhibition is a curatorial collaboration between the Gallery, Bobbie Ruben, mentor and design support in Indigenous textile development, and participating arts centres and artists.

IMAGE: Rowena Morgan, My Grandmothers Country  2016, Screen print on linen, Courtesy of Nagula Jarndu, Photo: Bobbie Ruben


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.