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A Collection of Stories | Aboriginal Art

Art and culture are prominent themes across our voyages, alongside natural encounters and historical understanding.  Taking the connection with Indigenous communities to the high seas, Coral Adventurer displays a curated collection of artworks that tell the stories of the communities and art centres we visit.

Aboriginal art is the oldest form of artistic expression in the world. Using soil and mineral materials, First Nations artists produce carvings, ground designs and paintings as a means to pass on their history and knowledge to younger generations. It is an important means of cultural preservation used as a storytelling means to convey knowledge of the land, events and beliefs.

“We want to support and connect with the communities we visit, and bringing the elements of these cultures and stories with us on board our ships is a powerful way to do that,” says Assistant Marketing Manager, Jessica Roelofs.

Coral Adventurer now displays over 35 pieces of artwork onboard, including eight pieces sourced through a Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) partnership. We’ve also just received two unique paintings from well-known Coen artist Naomi Hobson, which were commissioned for Coral Geographer. Guests can enjoy these beautiful paintings when she takes her maiden voyage in January 2021.”

Guest Lecturer Ian Morris points out this artwork to guests onboard Coral Adventurer

Many of the works were sourced at their origin in places we visit like Elcho Island and Maningrida. We’ve been offering Indigenous art-themed voyages for several years now, and have had the pleasure of Indigenous artists accompanying us to hold workshops for guests. These artists have included well-known Torres Strait artist Brian Robinson and David Bosun. The Coral Expeditions logo was even designed by Brian Robinson in 2015. Through our partnership with CIAF, we also held a themed sailing with Indigenous artist Naomi Hobson on the Great Barrier Reef.

Naomi Hobson onboard providing pottery workshops for our special Art Themed Great Barrier Reef expedition

“We are looking forward to a long association with CIAF and sourcing more feature artworks for the Coral Geographer,” explains Jessica Roelofs. “Wherever we go in the world, we want to bring with us the Indigenous stories and culture from our home shores of northern Australia that we have explored for over 30 years.”

Community arts centres are the gold standard if you want to buy Indigenous art ethically. Coral Expeditions voyages through Cape York, Arnhem Land and the Torres Strait islands frequently include stops at Maningrida Arts & Culture and Babbarra Women’s Centre at Maningrida; Elcho Island Arts at Galiwin’ku; Badu Art Centre at Badu Island; Moa Arts at Moa Island; Tiwi Design on the Tiwi Islands; and Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre at Yirrkala.

Cape York Arnhem Land Art Expedition 2019

Purchasing art here is an authentic and meaningful way to support remote artistic communities. These art centres are often the beating heart of the communities on Indigenous lands, as they are places where culture is celebrated and instructed every day. The impact they have on the economy of remote communities is also deeply valuable, as creating art is one of few economic drivers that is available to remote areas.  In these art centres, community leaders work with a committed and ambitious vision to create a better future for future generations, as the centres play an important role in artists’ career development and become a place of sharing culture between old people and young people.

Coral Expeditions is a proud sponsor of the ‘Collectors and Curators’ program at the annual event of the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF). The program brings private collectors and curators from major institutions to the Fair, providing many emerging Indigenous artists the chance to gain exposure to art leaders from across the country

“This is an important and aligned partnership for us on both a local and global level,” notes Commercial Director Jeff Gillies. “Our expedition cruise experience is built on our commitment to storytelling and the delivery of authentic expeditions into rarely-visited regions.  We are very proud to be an ongoing supporter of CIAF with a multi-year partnership in place. It is a relationship our crew and team are very proud to be involved with.”

We encourage readers to invest in art, music, creative expression, and the people who provide it. We are proud to support remote Australian artistic communities from the rainforest of Queensland, to the saltwater of Arnhem Land and Torres Strait, and to the red sands of the West.