Lei it on: now showing at Cairns Art Gallery

‘Lei it on’ is a collection of contemporary lei and body adornments made by communities in the Torres Strait Islands, and co-curated by CAG and National Gallery of Victoria.

Exploring the lei as an inherent symbol of identity and cultural meaning, the collection of forty unique artworks is on display and free to view at Cairns Art Gallery (CAG) until 27 August 2017.


Theresa Clermont, Shirley Ewadie Daniel, Dadib Ema Ingui, Bonita Kaida Ngalpan Buway lei (Our family lei) detail 2017 aluminium cans, cassowary feathers, seeds, steel cable, adhesive 93 x 100 x 1 cm (variable) Commissioned by the National Gallery of Victoria Photo: Michael Marzik

From large scale sculptural lei to intimate and delicate wearable pieces, the works have been created by Torres Strait Islander communities in workshops run by Cairns Art Gallery and the NGV on Thursday Island, Saibai Island, Erub (Darnley Island), Mer (Murray Island), Mua (Moa Island) and Badu in early 2017.

‘Through art making activities, this project has seen a vital exchange of knowledge between artists and curators, creating a deeper understanding of shared culture and identity’, said Tony Ellwood, Director, NGV.

The artists incorporate both customary and contemporary materials including shells, feathers, seeds and plant fibre through to found and recycled objects.

The collection promotes cultural identity, contemporary making, collaboration and creative expression.

The Lei it on exhibition coincides with Cairns Indigenous Art Fair 13-16 July.  but runs until 27 August 2017. Entry is free.

Seen at top: Segar Passi, Helen Dick, Garee Kaigey, Mary Kaigey, Rita Lui, Beverley Mabo, Helen Mabo, Delina Noah Messiah Luzab Lera Kaubo Arsir (The whole island of Mer, making things, making lei) 2017, canvas, acrylic paint, thread, synthetic wadding, silk linen, shell, plastic, silver sheet, enamel paint, copper sheet, copper tube, acrylic felt, nylon cord, coral, kulap seed, wongai seed, steel coated wire 170 x 107 x 12 cm (variable) Courtesy of the National Gallery of Victoria Photo: Michael Marzik.

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