Past Exhibitions

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26 April – 9 June '19

The story of a voluntary mass migration of a community from Saibai Island in the Torres Strait to the mainland after World War II, is explored in a new exhibition by Vincent Babia. Babia is a descendant of the Ait Kodal (Crocodile clan) and Samu (Cassowary clan) from Saibai Island and his family is one of many that relocated from Saibai to mainland Australia in the 1940s and 50s. He is a highly regarded sculptor of ceremonial masks, canoes and drums with works represented in the National Gallery of Australia. In this exhibition, Babia traces the stories of Saibai Island culture and the pearl luggers’ journeys from the island to the mainland, through sculptures and related vinyl cut prints. MORE

Linda Jackson
Tropical Design

8 February – 5 May '19

Linda Jackson AO is a leading fashion designer. Forty years ago she shaped and defined contemporary Australian fashion based on an eclectic mix of influences from India, Africa, and Asia. Linda Jackson: Tropical Design brings together exquisite and rarely seen textile designs from Jackson’s private collection. Working closely with Gallery Curator, Julietta Park, the exhibition presents the full range of her textile designs relating to the countries she visited within the world’s tropic zone, including those inspired by her many years visiting and living in north Queensland. MORE

FASHIONING BLACK IDENTITY Africa and the African Diaspora

8 February – 5 May '19

FASHIONING BLACK IDENTITY Africa and the African Diaspora explores ways in which contemporary black African artists are using fashion, photography and portraiture to redefine personal and cultural identity. The exhibition brings together works by six prominent artists from Africa and the African diaspora who use photography and different spatial, corporal and temporal reference points as devices to explore and unpack perceptions of race and being. MORE

David Hockney

21 February – 18 April '19

British artist David Hockney is regarded as one of the greatest printmakers of our time. The 2017 exhibition David Hockney: Prints at the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) was described by Australian art critic Sasha Grishin as a ‘striking landmark exhibition’ and an ‘internationally significant blockbuster’. All works in the exhibition are drawn from the NGA’s outstanding collection, and feature selected highlights from their exhibition. The Cairns Art Gallery is thrilled to be the premier venue for David Hockney: Prints which is a nationally touring exhibition. MORE

Elizabeth Hunter

8 March – 18 April '19

Elizabeth Hunter is a Cairns based artist whose exhibition, Decadence, explores the darker side of the human psyche, and raises questions about whether we as humans have lost the ability to feel and show empathy and compassion. MORE

Andrea Huelin

18 January – 3 March '19

Andrea Huelin is a Cairns-based artist whose still-life paintings capture, with an incisive clarity and attention to detail, everyday objects that surround us in our daily lives. MORE

Goobalathaldin Dick Roughsey
Stories of this Land

15 November – 10 February '19

Goobalathaldin Dick Roughsey: Stories of this Land is the first major retrospective exhibition celebrating the work and life of Goobalathaldin Dick Roughsey, and is delivered in partnership with the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA). The exhibition brings together seventy works from major institutions and private lenders including barks, paintings, ceremonial and historical objects, draft illustrations from the Rainbow Serpent children’s book and three story book films; The Rainbow Serpent (1975), The Giant Devil Dingo (1977) and The Quinkans (1982). MORE

Physical Video

30 November – 3 February '19

Physical Video features key video works from the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), which focus on performance and theatricality in video art in Australia from the 1970s through to the present day. Through small gestures and modes of performance, the works in Physical Video invite audiences to think about the use of physicality to explore ideas beyond the action itself. MORE

Sean Rafferty
Cartonography: Fruit Cartons of Far North Queensland

30 November – 3 February '19

Cartonography (a combination of carton and cartography) is a project by Sydney-based artist Sean Rafferty, which involves the collection, mapping and cataloguing of Australian fruit and vegetable cartons. MORE

Cairns Art Society
71st Annual Art Exhibition

11 January – 3 February '19

The Cairns Art Society was formed in 1931 to “promote an interest in art and where possible help individual artists to achieve their aims”. Over the years the Society’s annual exhibition has become an important community event and has profiled the work of hundreds of local artists. MORE

Destination North
Contemporary Illustration

23 November – 13 January '19

For this exhibition, the Gallery has worked with and commissioned seven early career artists to design a series of illustrations that offer contemporary interpretations of Cairns as a lifestyle and holiday destination. At the turn of the twentieth century there was a global explosion of pleasure travel due to more accessible modes of transport, and a new genre of lithographic travel posters emerged. In the 1930s and 40s the Queensland Government Tourism Bureau produced destinations posters that promoted Far North Queensland as a tropical paradise. Destination North is a contemporary take on this advertising campaign. MORE

Melting Pot
2018 National Ceramics Exhibition

30 November – 6 January '19

Melting Pot 2018 showcases both functional and abstract artworks, formed with different types of clay bodies and using a range of techniques and materials. Works selected for the exhibition showcase innovations in glazing and firing techniques, particularly by ceramicists from the Far North Queensland region. MORE

David Griggs
Between Nature and Sin

28 September – 25 November '18

BETWEEN NATURE AND SIN is the first major survey exhibition of works by leading Australian artist David Griggs. Griggs was born in Sydney in 1975, but moved to the Philippines more than ten years ago. Through painting, photography and film, his works document the everyday, intimate, chance moments of his friends and strangers in order to expose and explore the human condition. MORE

Hank Willis Thomas

12 October – 25 November '18

Born in 1976 in Plainfield, New Jersey, and raised in New York, Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual photographer whose work addresses issues of identity, politics, popular culture, and mass media pertaining to American race relations. He has been described as “a tough and thoughtful young artist whose images confront our sense of memory and history”. MORE

Mollie Bosworth
The Nature of Blue

21 September – 18 November '18

Mollie Bosworth is a nationally recognised ceramicist who, for the past two decades, has been producing work from her home studio in the rainforest setting of Kuranda. MORE

The Tim Fairfax Gift
A World View

28 September – 11 November '18

A World View is a unique opportunity for Cairns audiences to experience key works from the international collection of the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA). A World View was first shown at GOMA as part of its tenth anniversary celebrations and honoured the far-reaching contribution of Tim Fairfax ac, one of Australia’s most generous philanthropists. Over the years, Tim Fairfax has supported the acquisition of more than seventy of the most remarkable works to enter QAGOMA’s Collection, including installation, sculpture, video and photographic works from around the world, with a particular focus on Africa, South America and the Pacific. MORE

Olaf & Kerstens
Erwin Olaf and Hendrick Kerstens

24 August – 7 October '18

Erwin Olaf and Hendrik Kerstens are internationally renowned contemporary photographers from the Netherlands. While each artist draws inspiration from the work of the Dutch Masters, their subject and approach to photography is very different. MORE


6 July – 23 September '18

Continental Drift: Black / blak art from South Africa and north Australia is the first major exhibition from a Gallery program that celebrates and examines global black art and culture. Continental Drift highlights the shared experiences of contemporary blak/black artists from South Africa and north Australia. While both countries have different histories, British colonisation had dramatic effects on their black peoples, many of which continue to be experienced today. MORE


29 June – 9 September '18

Mara: Indigenous design, politics and food culture celebrates the cultural heritage and living culture of Aboriginal people in north Queensland. In the Nyirrma (language) of the Djabuguy, Yirrganydji, Bulway, Nyakali and Guluy groups, mara means hand. In this context it refers to the hand that makes, gathers, prepares and hunts. The exhibition presents designed objects that are used in food gathering and preparation as a large-scale installation work. Also represented are designed objects used as adornments in ceremonial and cultural practices that utilise the bones, teeth and the shells of the hunted animals. MORE


6 July – 19 August '18

North by East West: Re–igniting a cultural connection through pearl shell celebrates the relationship between Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal cultures through a shared history based around the pearl shell, which was used both as a cultural medium and a commodity for industry. The traditional cultural practice of pearl shell carving and design continues today in the Torres Strait as well as the Kimberley Coast by contemporary artists through the creation of wood sculptures, fine jewellery, etchings and prints. The exhibition includes works by Torres Strait Islander artists, Sam Savage and Joel Sam, and two Bard artists, brothers Darrell Sibosado and Garry Sibosado. MORE

Fred Williams
Weipa Series, Cape York

2 March – 1 July '18

Fred Williams (1927-82) is one of Australia’s most respected and influential twentieth-century artists. He is best known for his distinctive depictions of the Australian landscape, where the horizon line is removed to create a seamless melding of the sky and land, and elements of the countryside are reduced to simple image markings on a flat plane of striated colour. MORE

Selling the Shadow

4 May – 1 July '18

Selling the Shadow presents nine media works by contemporary African-American and African artists. Works selected for the exhibition examine the relationship between art and social practice through video. MORE

Danie Mellor
Proximity and Perception

4 May – 1 July '18

Proximity and Perception focuses on a major new work by Danie Mellor commissioned by the Cairns Art Gallery Foundation, and places it within the context of his recent art practice and ongoing engagement with his matrilineal Country of the North Queensland rainforest region, south of Cairns. MORE

Seeing voices

27 April – 24 June '18

Seeing voices is a NETS Victoria and Monash University Museum of Arts touring exhibition that seeks to diversify and complicate our understanding of the voice through the prism of contemporary art. MORE


20 April – 17 June '18

Obsessed! Compelled to make is a rich and fascinating study of the complexities of materials, techniques and motivations that inform and shape the processes of creating. This is an experiential exhibition that encourages the visitor to think beyond the material object and consider the processes and reasons behind an object’s creation. MORE

Isabel and Alfredo Aquilizan
Project Another Country

3 March – 29 April '18

The visually stunning installation takes the viewer on an underwater voyage of discovery, where periscopes, lights and reflections bring the flotilla of tiny craft to life and inspire viewers to make their own boats during the exhibition using materials supplied by the Gallery. MORE

Del Kathryn Barton
The Nightingale and the Rose

16 February – 22 April '18

Enter the hauntingly beautiful world of Oscar Wilde’s Nightingale, magically brought to life by acclaimed artist Del Kathryn Barton and renowned filmmaker Brendan Fletcher. MORE

gather, gathers, gathering

2 March – 15 April '18

Manggan – gather, gathers, gathering is a captivating exhibition of works by artists from the Girringun Aboriginal Art Centre, which is located in Cardwell, Far North Queensland. The Centre represents artists from nine Traditional Owner groups - the Nywaigi, Gugu Badhun, Warrgamay, Warungnu, Bandjin, Girramay, Gulnay, Jirrbal and Djiru people. Their traditional country covers more than twenty-five thousand square kilometres, from north of Townsville, southwest to Clarke River, north to the Mission Beach area, west to Ravenshoe and east to include Hinchinbrook and the Family Group Islands. MORE

Vera Scarth-Johnson
Wild Flower

20 October – 25 February '18

Wild Flower brings together fifty of Vera Scarth-Johnson’s finest botanical paintings of flowering plants as well as a number of her rarely seen floral arrangement paintings, private sketchbooks, early drawings, personal photographs and fascinating correspondence records with leading botanists and herbariums across the globe. MORE


1 December – 18 February '18

ARTNOW FNQ is a biennial initiative of the Gallery that aims to explore and reflect the inspiring range of activities that drive contemporary art and creative practice in Far North Queensland MORE

Vernon Ah Kee
Portrait of my father

2 December – 18 February '18

Vernon Ah Kee is a nationally and internationally renowned artist who was born in Innisfail, south of Cairns, in 1967. This year he returned to Cairns to complete a commissioned portrait for the Gallery’s Permanent Collection, Merv Ah Kee (my father). MORE

Story Waters
From the Permanent Collection

22 December – 11 February '18

Story Waters brings together more than sixty works from the Gallery’s Permanent Collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art that have been acquired since the Gallery opened in 1995. MORE

Celebrating Australian women abstract artists

15 September – 26 November '17

Abstraction is a celebration of Australia’s finest collection of women abstract artists, including Margaret Preston, Dorrit Black and Grace Crowley and is an exhibition that has captivated and inspired audiences of all ages around Australia. MORE

Going Out
Native Food Plants and Flowers

1 September – 15 October '17

Going out brings together a range of works by Indigenous women artists that explore and interpret how native plants continue to be used for their medicinal properties, as a food source, and in traditional ceremonies.   MORE

Greg Semu

12 July – 17 September '17

Working with Coen artist Naomi Hobson, Semu has worked like a filmmaker, zeroing in on, re-enacting and upscaling as gigantic photographs the brutal evidence of Coen’s frontier wars for the purpose of remembering the past and acknowledging present injustice and discrimination. MORE

Daniel Boyd
Bitter Sweet

24 June – 10 September '17

The exhibition examines narratives of the Pacific Islands as a ‘paradise’, and the life of Pacific Islanders in relation to slavery and the sugar cane industry, and the effect on descendants’ lives in Far North Queensland, including those of Boyd’s own ancestors. MORE

Lei it on

24 June – 27 August '17

The result of a curatorial collaboration between the Cairns Art Gallery & National Gallery of Victoria, Lei it on presents a captivating collection of contemporary lei and body adornment from the Torres Strait Islands. MORE

Brett Whiteley
Other Places (Somewhere Else)

28 April – 2 July '17

Other Places (Somewhere Else) offers a rare opportunity to view intimate drawings and lyrical paintings completed during Whiteley`s extensive travels. Artworks created in response to locations such as Paris, New York, Japan, Fiji, Bali and Far North Queensland is highlighted. The exhibition is presented in partnership with the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Brett Whiteley Studio; all works are loaned from these two institutions. MORE

Francesca Rosa

21 April – 18 June '17

Francesca Rosa is a photo-media artist based in Etty Bay, south of Cairns. Her solo exhibition Memoria, investigates the history of Italian migration, with a particular focus on the first post-World War II Italians who arrived in Cairns to work in the Far North Queensland sugarcane industry. MORE

Animalia Australis

3 February – 7 May '17

The Art Gallery of Ballarat has an extensive holding of 19th century Australian art, including works on paper, paintings, sculpture and furniture dating from the era before the foundation of the Commonwealth.  Art historians have divided this era into a Colonial period that ended around 1880, and a Federation period that covers the last twenty years of the 19th century. This exhibition, selected from the Art Gallery of Ballarat’s holdings, celebrates the time of first... MORE

Erub Erwer Meta (Darnley Island Arts Centre)
Design Directions

17 February – 16 April '17

Design Directions is a group exhibition that presents each artist’s aesthetic expression of culture and identity through works on paper and related ceramic and textile designs.  Erub Erwer Meta is a small but expanding group of artists from four tribal groups in Erub (Darnley Island), which is 160km north east of Queensland’s Cape York Peninsula and one of the most remote communities in Australia.  From its beginnings twenty years ago as a craft group,... MORE

Kapua George Gutchen Snr.
A Window Into Erub

3 February – 19 March '17

Gutchen’s works are a visual language of the culture and people of Erub, their ceremonies, rituals, market trade, music and dance performances. MORE

Land and People
New Media Works from Asia Pacific

3 February – 12 March '17

Land and People presents new media works by six contemporary artists from the Asia Pacific region whose works explore relationships between nature and people and the impact of natural and man-made disasters on their lives. Philippine artist Lav Diaz, explores the impact of global warming on environmental changes in the Philippines, while Song Dong looks at complex issues that underpin China’s endless urban sprawl.  For Korean artist Kira Kim, the infamous suicide... MORE

Joanna Roberts
Synthetic Biota

2 December – 12 February '17

Joanna Roberts is an artist and designer whose work embraces the colour and sculptural possibilities of contemporary materials and industrial processes. Roberts grew up in Darwin, but she has also lived in Melbourne, Cairns, and Adelaide. Her work is informed by extensive artistic and environmental research, and information and experiences gathered during her visits to European and Asian galleries and museums, and meetings with other international artists. The colour, form and... MORE

Yuki Kihara
Der Papālagi (The White Man)

18 November – 29 January '17

On 18 November 2016, the Cairns Regional Gallery, Queensland, Australia is presenting Yuki Kihara’s new body of work entitled  ‘Der Papālagi (The White Man)’ .  Yuki Kihara is an Interdisciplinary artist whose work  engages in a variety of social, political and cultural issues. Often referencing Pacific history, her work explores the varying relationships between gender, race, culture and politics.  The title of this new series comes... MORE

Masks and Headdresses from the Permanent Collection
Krar A Dari

21 December – 29 January '17

Ken Thaiday Snr, Obery Sambo, Allson Edrick Tabaui, Yessie Mosby, Alick Tipoti. The practice of mask and headdress making is a long and enduring art form throughout the Torres Strait Islands.  Before the Coming of the Light in 1871, when Christianity was introduced to the Islands, the production of ceremonial objects for use in elaborate ritual was common. Masks are still created today and used as a visual intermediary, connecting the living and spirit realms during... MORE

Andrew Bonneau
Recent Drawings and Paintings

16 November – 18 December '16

Andrew Bonneau is a young emerging artist who lives and works in Cairns. Since his studies at the National Art School in Sydney, the Charlie Sheard Studio School and the Julian Ashton Art School, Bonneau has focussed on portraiture and figure painting.  For Bonneau, a portrait is the most interesting and challenging subject. Similar to portraits of the Renaissance period, Bonneau’s painted figures with their classical poses and subtle use of light and shadow embody... MORE

Beyond the Surface
New Textiles and Ceramics

19 August – 16 October '16

Beyond the Surface: New Textiles and Ceramics explores the diverse ways in which images and designs are applied to contemporary ceramics, textiles and furniture as an aesthetic expression of culture and identity. A new initiative of the Gallery, Beyond the Surface brings together recent works produced by a selection of outstanding Indigenous and non-Indigenous ceramists, textile artists and designers across Queensland and northern Australia. Works in the exhibition... MORE

Brian Robinson
Pacific Crosscurrents

9 July – 6 September '16

Brian Robinson: Pacific Crosscurrents  presents an artist’s view of how his Torres Strait Island homeland intersects with ancient traditions and modern histories of the Pacific.   The crosscurrents reflect an exchange of ideas, beliefs, and cultural practices.  They also represent ancient traditions of sea voyaging occurring across the geographically vast region of the Pacific islands and Southeast Asia. These voyages occurred centuries before European... MORE

Claudia Moodoonuthi
Woven Identity

24 June – 4 September '16

Claudia Moodoonuthi was born in 1995 on Bentinck Island off the Queensland Gulf coastline. As the great granddaughter of the late Kaiadilt senior law man, King Alfred, Claudia was raised by her great grandmother, ‘May May’ Moodoonuthi, and her Kaiadilt aunties, Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori and Netta Loogatha on the neighbouring Mornington Island, land of the Lardil people. Through regular trips to their country on Bentinck Island, the ‘old girls’... MORE

Grace Lillian Lee
Body Sculpture

24 June – 4 September '16

This exhibition brings together a body of new works created by Cairns-based artist, Grace Lillian Lee. Vivid colours and striking sculptural forms explore how contemporary fashion and performance intersect with traditional artistic and cultural practices to create a new cultural dialogue. Lee is a descendant of the Doolah family from Darnley Island and her parents come from multicultural backgrounds including Torres Strait Islander, Chinese, English, German and Danish. At an early age... MORE


29 June – 4 September '16

The visually mesmerising new media works in IMPACT examine the ramifications of colonisation on Indigenous communities in Queensland and the Pacific region through the work of four acclaimed new media artists - Michael Cook, Taloi Havini, Angela Tiatia and Fiona Foley. Michael Cook explores the untold consequences on members of the Stolen Generations, of the forced removal of Aboriginal children from their families from the 1870s until the 1970s. Cook creates a 1960s vignette in... MORE

Toby Cedar

24 June – 14 August '16

Toby Cedar is a Torres Strait Islander with bloodline connections to Erub, Mer and Moa Islands. Growing up on mainland Australia, Cedar was taught traditional stories from the Islands, through song and dance. Like his ancestors, Cedar is an innovative, self-taught craftsman who uses the materials available to him to realise his works. Respected Elders mentor him in traditional craft practices. This is the artist’s first major solo exhibition and his most ambitious artistic... MORE

James Morrison
Re-imagining Papua New Guinea

15 April – 19 June '16

James Morrison Re-imagining Papua New Guinea This is the first exhibition to bring together a collection of the artist's imaginary landscapes relating to Far North Queensland and Papua New Guinea. In writing about the exhibition Julia Powles has described his paintings and drawings as showing us “the world constructed as a sequence of impossible histories, one in which fragmentary moments from time coincide in fictionalised landscapes, the like of which can only exist in art.... MORE

Greg Semu

15 April – 12 June '16

Greg Semu has a 20-year career that includes numerous international residencies and exhibitions. Born in 1971 in New Zealand, Semu now lives and works in Sydney and has recently returned from a residency at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien studio in Berlin. His work will be the subject of a major exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria later this year. “12”  brings together recent works by Semu that have been acclaimed for their excellent production values,... MORE

New Indigenous Textiles
Out of Queensland

17 July – 13 September '15

Cairns Regional Gallery’s  Out of Queensland: New Indigenous Textiles  exhibition exemplifies the fusion of digital technology and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander contemporary art practice and is presented in partnership with the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair. The exhibition explores exciting new directions in the work of Vernon Ah Kee, Naomi Hobson, Gordon Hookey, Heather Koowootha, Claudia Moodoonuthi, Ryan Presley, Brian Robinson, Teho Ropeyarn and Arthur... MORE

Alick Tipoti

10 July – 6 September '15

Alick Tipoti is recognised as one of the Torres Strait Islands’ most dynamic contemporary artists. Growing up on Badu Island, he learnt the traditional stories and Kala Lagaw Ya language from his parents. Tipoti is a passionate ambassador for his culture, language and the traditions of his people and Zenadh Kes (Torres Strait Islands). This powerful exhibition includes complex and intricately carved prints, ceremonial masks and large carved sculptures. The title for the exhibition... MORE

Segar Passi
Bakei – 1960s to the Present

11 July – 21 September '14

Segar Passi: Bakei – 1960s to the Present  is the first ever major exhibition of works by senior Torres Strait Island artist Segar Passi. Passi, who as a child taught himself to paint, has been making art for over six decades. In the 1960s he was one of eight Torres Strait Island artists asked by anthropologist Margaret Lawrie to record, in paintings and drawings, the history, culture, flora and fauna of the Torres Strait. The young Passi made more than 135... MORE

Erub Kebe Le
Ken Thaiday Snr

16 August – 20 October '13

Ken Thaiday Snr: Erub Kebe Le Ken Thaiday Snr: Erub Kebe Le , the first-ever major survey exhibition of works by internationally recognised senior Torres Strait Island artist Ken Thaiday Snr, brings together thirty-six sculptural pieces created by Thaiday over the past thirty years. Thaiday’s articulated dance headdresses and other ‘mobilised artefacts’, with their inventive integration of traditional and non-traditional materials, have attracted worldwide... MORE