As part of QPAC’s commitment to reconciliation with our First Nations people, we continually look to bring Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures together to make meaningful connections.
An embodiment of this was during QPAC’s Clancestry – A Celebration of Country, when Nunukul artist of the Quandamooka people from Minjerribah Casey Coolwell-Fisher led the on-site festival design with the mentorship of award-winning production designer Josh McIntosh.
With a background in graphic design, and following a few smaller commissions with QPAC including for Clancestry in 2019 and the free QPAC Tunnel Exhibition Unearthed, Coolwell-Fisher was charged with creating a warm, welcoming and recognisable First Nations space for Clancestry for six years.
Coolwell-Fisher’s final artwork for Clancestry was a beautiful and intricate graphic that represented First Nations people coming together and sharing their stories, just like the combinations and storytelling of our natural elements.
The Melbourne Street Green. Photo by Tai Bobongie.
“The mix of our trees and leaves are represented in the leaf elements, sand and dirt in the dot work, water in the swirled lines and the mountains/hills in the combination of everything,” says Coolwell-Fisher.
On collaborating with McIntosh and how her digital work was lifted to Clancestry’s physical spaces, Coolwell-Fisher says:
“Josh was able to take my digital art pieces and create conceptual layouts for us to check out, make changes and come up with something deadly!”
Our Backyard on the Melbourne Street Green. Photo by Tai Bobongie.
McIntosh credited Coolwell-Fisher’s vivid and clean artwork for drawing people into the festival spaces.
“Casey’s really beautiful and complex graphics incorporated leaf and water designs, with textural elements like sand, which we then could use different pallet versions of in all sorts of ways to help add a real sense of colour and sense of place,” says McIntosh.
“What we did early on was designate different geographical locales for difference spaces in the building – so we had an ice and water theme in the Concert Hall, a rainforest theme in the Cremorne, and wattle and desert tones on the Melbourne Street Green.”
Aunty Sonja Carmichael holds a workshop in front of Coolwell-Fisher’s artwork in the QPAC foyer. Photo by Tai Bobongie.
Both designers are all for creating more pathways for First Nations artists in the industry. With a such a lack of local theatre designers to start with McIntosh says:
“It’s so important everybody has a voice, and to have somebody like Casey who’s contributing in such a big way to this festival was fantastic – there’s an amazing ripple effect as her work had such a huge visual impact on this area.”
“It's important, as we get to see the different side and aspects of setting up a gig and dealing with different operations is really an eye opening.
“Giving our people this opportunity is important, as it gives us creative inspiration for our future projects.”
In November 2023, Clancestry festival celebrated everything that is beautiful, black and deadly about First Nations Peoples and performing arts.
Jarjums Life Museum
Jarjums Life Museum is a museum made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Jarjums.
QPAC’s Warm Welcome
This was a series of events looking at what happens when communities open their hearts, homes and institutions to people from other places.
The Mabo Oration
In 2005 the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland (ADCQ) and QPAC partnered to establish he Mabo Oration – a biennial public oration.
Our First Nations program is bold, resilient, and features fierce black work from local, regional and national First Nations artists.
Sparks is a PLAYLAB THEATRE and QPAC partnership program which runs for a year and is designed to facilitate pathway opportunities for First Nations Artists in the performing arts.
National Apology Day
To commemorate the 14th anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations in 2022, Link-Up (Qld) hosted a morning tea at QPAC.
As it Happened: Clancestry 2022
Highlights from QPAC’s Clancestry – A Celebration of Country, which ran from 13 to 28 May 2022 and brought together First Nations voices, ideas and talent.
QPAC Launches Reconciliation Action Plan
QPAC launched its Reconciliation Action Plan, signalling the organisation's commitment to reconciliation with Australia’s First Nations peoples.
Central Australian Aboriginal Women's Choir
The debut performance by the Central Australian Aboriginal Women's Choir was a resounding success with audiences treated to extraordinary choral singing from the outback.
Healing Country through the Performing Arts
Reflections from our Chief Executive John Kotzas and Elder in Residence Aunty Colleen Wall during NAIDOC Week 2021.
Meet Rachael Sarra
Responsible for QPAC’s First Nations artwork, her artwork recognizes and celebrates First Nations people, culture and stories throughout all of Queensland.