Thancoupie Bursary Fund: Fundraising art auction: Canopy Art Centre 18th – 27th May
A couple of months ago in Cairns an art event honoured one of the country's most pre-eminent ceramicists and arguably Australia's foremost Aboriginal artist, the late [and recognised Queensland Great] Dr Thancoupie Gloria Fletcher James AO, known fondly as 'Than' by most. In her will Thancoupie left behind an endowment fund, a trust of sorts to be utilised as a scholarship programme for young or emerging Aboriginal artists from the Western Cape, Cape York Peninsula (her home region). Since its inauguration the Thancoupie Bursary Fund has raised a sizable amount due to the assistance of the Queensland Government and countless benefactors as well as support from the Aboriginal Benefits Foundation. Events such as the recently held fundraising art auction have been crucial to the Bursary's sustainability and also presents a great and interactive way for the community and those who admired Thancoupie to contribute. This is the latest of a number of fundraising auctions held over the past few years, one at the Cairns Regional Gallery and another at KickArts Contemporary Arts.
While the Bursary has been growing, building its profile and advocating for Indigenous arts advancement in the Far North, artist Paul Bong became the first recipient of the bursary last year. The funds awarded to Paul- and all future recipients- goes towards supporting either their arts practice or arts education. In a time where public funding to the arts is restricted and restrictive, this initiative from the private sector, from the community, is a great step forward. Supporting artists, especially Indigenous artists, and advocating for arts education (aside from her arts practice) were some of Thancoupie's lifelong passions.
Held at the Canopy Art Centre in Cairns, the auction featured over 40 eclectic works of varying mediums and schools, including works by prominent Indigenous artists such as Dick Roughsey, Arone Meeks, Glen Mackie, Brian Robinson and Janet Fieldhouse– along with two very specially gifted works by Ray Crooke and Thancoupie herself! Other artists, as featured in order in the catalogue include: Paul Bong, Craig Hoy, Mollie Bosworth, Samuel Tupou, Teho Ropeyarn, Rick Beresford & Phil Johns, Kerry Trapnell, Ian Whittaker, Jill Symes, Geoff Crispin, Angus Nivison, Jenny Fraser, Roland Nancarrow, Heather Koowootha, Theo Tremblay, Zoe De Jersey, Daphne De Jersey, Marsha Hall, Pamela Griffith, Lynn Bates, Peter Thompson, Serena Kuring, Nina Dawson, Margaret Genever, Mark Cochrane and Joseph & Ian Skeen & Family.
While the definite figure of what was successfully raised at the auction has yet been officially announced by the Thancoupie Bursary Fund committee, from my estimations the figure is impressively into the early tens of thousands of dollars mark. To keep updated on any future announcements follow the Bursary's official Facebook page.
*Jack is the Tribal-Grandson of Thancoupie and is himself a contemporary artist & writer from Cape York & Far North Queensland.
Aboriginal Affairs Advocate
Artist & Artsworker
Dick Roughsey, The Emu and the Turkey, 1972, 47cm x 37cm, bark painting
Heather Koowootha, Kubarra Fire Storm, 2016, (etching)
Ian Whittaker, Fiat, 2015, ceramic
Jill Symes, Coral Vessel, 1996, ceramic
(Left) Rick Beresford and Phil Johns, Kunangurra, 2015, 90cm x 61cm digital print on board, (Right) Jenny Fraser, Where's Murri, 2016, 76cm x 51cm, digitial print on canvas
Margaret Genever, Disparate Supper Dance, 2011, 26 x 37cm, archival pigment print
Ray Crooke, Sandstone Outcrop Cape York, c.1986, 52cm x 39cm, screen print
Roland Nancarrow, Licuala Deluxe, 2015, 3D sculpture
Thancoupie, Beug crab, Negwerre bandicoot, Guiree flying fox and fish, c.1985, 23cm diameter