Works in this exhibition explore narratives around the theme of life in the tropics, and how a profoundly complex environment can inform perceptions of identity and belonging. For some, the tropics is a place of bountiful beauty and colour, a place that is affluently fecund, but for others it can be a place of foreboding, deep and dark, impenetrable and menacing.
For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists living in far north Queensland, the tropics are home - a place that has provided food, shelter and cultural connection and identity for millennia. For many, plants and life forms of the region continue to be the subject of their art practice.
Segar Passi, an important Elder from Mer (Murray) Island, has a deep knowledge of the marine life that abounds in the Torres Strait, which he records through carefully detailed drawings and watercolours. For Melanie Hava, the hidden under-world of the Great Barrier Reef, with its ever-changing light, colours and dancing shapes of plants and animals, is a source of artistic inspiration.
Heather Koowootha recalls the rituals of growing up in remote communities in Cape York, and gathering native foods and plants as a child. Her carefully patterned works are based on these memories, while also serving to record important seasonal changes and the types of plants traditionally used for medicinal purposes.
Melbourne-born artist James Morrison grew up in the tropical environment of Papua New Guinea. His childhood memories of the landscape are largely imagined and fantastical and often include indicators of times past and times future in order to convey a world of abundance and exoticness.
Roland Nancarrow lives and works in Cairns and has an enduring passion for palm trees and the tropics. In recent years he visited tropical South America where he was captivated by its tropical bird and plant life, references to which are evident in his new works.
The lush vegetation of the tropics has similarly inspired Melbourne-born artist, Linda Jackson, who spent many years working in far north Queensland. The boldly colourful plants and flowers of the region are distinctive elements in her textile designs for tropical clothing and homewares.
All works in this exhibition are from the Permanent Collection of the Cairns Art Gallery.