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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural art students are tapping into high tech resources to express their cultural identity.

In Cairns, cultural art, advanced manufacturing and artificial intelligence collide to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students bring their creative designs to life.

Dharraba Warra woman, Lynelle Flinders teaches Cultural Arts at TAFE Queensland.

“Art is very special to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as it allows us to tell our stories and to keep our culture alive,” Mrs Flinders said.

“Our cultural art students use a number of traditional mediums to express their cultural identity such as painting, drawing and printing."

Mrs Flinders said a number of TAFE Queensland students will gain industry experience and exposure when they submit work for various exhibitions and a fashion parade during NAIDOC Week (7 – 14 July).

In 2019, the NAIDOC Week theme is ‘Voice. Treaty. Truth. Let’s work together for a shared future’, a concept Mrs Flinders said her students embody.

“Our students are collaborating with the Makerspace to create art work and body adornment using a laser cutter and 3D printers,” Mrs Flinders said.

“It’s amazing the students can access this sort of technology as it allows them to expand their skill set and build upon their body of work."

The students create their own designs which are then uploaded to a computer and a machine in the Makerspace begins building the art uninterrupted by human needs like food and sleep – meaning it’s a great tool for tight deadlines.

Darnley Island community elder Kapua Gutchen is one of the TAFE Queensland students utilising the technology.

"I have designed a Warup, which is an instrument used in the Torres Strait Islands for marching and to sing dance songs, ceremonial songs and church hymns," Mr Gutchen said.

"We Torres Strait Islanders call this drum Warup which derives from our language word 'Warwarr Upi' meaning that the tail end or back end of this instrument has beautiful patterns and it also has a carrying handle which is called 'Epi'."

“The Warup I have designed features diamond patterns and one of my totems, the sea turtle.”

The Makerspace, located at the TAFE Queensland Cairns campus, is spearheaded by Matt Ritchie and he’s guided by the ethos: dream it, design it, make it and pass those opportunities on.

“The Makerspace has cutting edge technology and resources, and it’s a hub for knowledge sharing, problem solving and inventing,” Mr Ritchie said.

“I’m excited to work with the cultural arts students to bring their designs to life using advanced manufacturing techniques."

“We are also looking at incorporating generative design, which means artificial intelligence will be employed to help develop the students’ concepts.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts are a rich contribution to Australia’s diverse contemporary culture and national identity. Now more than ever artists are depicting their culture in their art and showcasing it in mainland exhibitions.

Set yourself on the path to a creative career in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts industry.

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TAFE Queensland