Aurukun Shire Council has launched a drive to take the community’s Wik and Kugu Arts Centre to the next level – starting with the recruitment of a new Manager.
Chief Executive Officer Bernie McCarthy said recruitment for a permanent arts centre manager has already begun, as the council bids to see more residents and visitors involved in the centre.
Charlie Street starts as Interim Arts Centre Manager next Monday (24 November) while the recruitment process for the permanent role takes place, with an announcement due in January.
“We really want to see the Wik and Kugu Arts Centre increase its engagement with local artists, solidify relationships with major art galleries, and increase its sales,” said Mr McCarthy.
“Aurukun is famous for its innovative and imaginative Indigenous artwork, particularly its sculptures and weaving.
“The Council wants to see greater engagement with the many talented artists who live in the Aurukun township.
“We’re encouraging local residents and visitors to only purchase authentic artworks through the local centre.”
In his role, Mr Street will be primarily focusing on engaging artists who want to access the arts centre’s support and services.
“These are exciting times for Aurukun artists, so I encourage everyone to get on board and enjoy the amazing pieces Aurukun artists produce,” said Mr McCarthy.
“Council wants to see everyone get behind this well-known Aurukun art, and see its local skilled artists continue to work well and make Wik people proud.”
There has been an arts centre at Aurukun for more than 50 years, and it provides artistic and commercial support for local artists.
The Wik and Kugu Arts Centre focuses on the production of high-quality Indigenous sculpture and fibre art, as well as being an important cultural centre.
Artists of the Aurukun region are famous for their sculptures. Traditionally, the works were carved in soft timber for use in ceremonies.
When the ceremonies were finished, the objects were discarded and left to break down in the bush. These sculptures are now taking more lasting form as art objects.
Sculptures from Aurukun are mainly based on totemic animal or plant images.
Each artist has one or sometimes two totems that relate to them, their family and their language group, and identify them within a social structure.
Located on the western coastline of Cape York Peninsula, the artistic and cultural traditions of the Wik, Wik Waya and Kuju peoples have gained national and international recognition in recent years.
“In fact, it is only in the last 10 years that the artists of Aurukun have pursued a commercial market for their work,” said Mr McCarthy.
“Today, the arts centre successfully experiments in fusing traditional and contemporary cultural traditions, found in the sculptures of creator beings, animals, and notably the camp dogs, Ghostnet baskets and woven sculptures.”
Aurukun artists have recently held exhibitions at Kickarts in Cairns, as well as a print exhibition at the Cairns Regional Gallery and the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair.