'Kickin' up Dust', Contemporary Festivals of Indigenous Australia


Speaker: Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Dr Ashton Calvert to launch ‘Kickin’ up Dust’ Photographic Exhibition

DFAT Atrium

7 July 2003

Good afternoon.

Excellencies, distinguished guests, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen.

I should like to extend a warm welcome to everyone.

Thank you for joining us at the launch of the photographic exhibition Kickin’ up Dust: Contemporary Festivals of Indigenous Australia.

In commencing today’s proceedings, I once again acknowledge the Ngunnawal peoples - the traditional custodians of the land on which we stand today.

I extend also a special welcome to festival representatives and other guests from indigenous communities across Australia who have made a special effort to join us today.

Kickin’ up Dust is an exciting initiative of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Program.

It is designed to convey a positive and accurate image of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture in contemporary Australia.

This exhibition of photographs - funded through the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Program of our Images of Australia Branch - will tour the Department’s global network of diplomatic missions for three years.

Kickin’ up Dust will be used by our posts as a vehicle for raising awareness and informing international audiences about the richness and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – which is so clearly evident in the vibrant photographs before us.

The Department has significant success in touring exhibitions of indigenous Australian arts.

Two major exhibitions – Kirripuranji, featuringcontemporary Art from the Tiwi islands, and Seasons of the Kunwinjku, featuring Aboriginal Art from West Arnhem Land – are currently touring overseas.

I am confident Kickin’ up Dust will also convey a strong and positive message about Australia’s indigenous peoples and cultures.

Indigenous cultural festivals, such as the examples depicted in the exhibition, represent a vibrant and vital part of Australian society.

As is evident in the exhibition, Australia’s indigenous communities maintain strong community traditions and express their cultures in many different ways.

The photographs you see here are intended to capture the essence of each festival, and to provide a window into the peoples and cultures of those particular communities.

Kickin’ up Dust depicts scenes from four unique and diverse cultural festivals held between August 2002 and February this year.  They are:

  • Garma, held in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory;
  • The Torres Strait Cultural Festival, held on Thursday Island off the far north coast of Queensland;
  • Stompem Ground, held in Broome in Western Australia, and;
  • larapuna, held in Eddystone Point, in north-east Tasmania.

We are particularly grateful to two Canberra-based companies – who together formed ‘Liquid SPA’ to develop the exhibition.

This exhibition would also not have been possible without the support of the festival organising bodies, the photographers, and especially the associated communities for allowing us to showcase indigenous culture.

I should like to thank everyone for their patience and commitment to ensuring the success of Kickin’ up Dust.

Congratulations, and please enjoy the exhibition.

Thank you.

Last Updated: 19 September 2014