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About Djumbunji Press

Since its inception in March 2009, Djumbunji Press has collaborated with hundreds of Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists from Far North Queensland and elsewhere, generating new work of a consistently high standard. Some of this work has entered collections around the world, and set new benchmarks in the development of Australian Indigenous art.

Djumbjunji Press activities have included: workshops from beginners to master classes in the studio and in remote communities; an open access studio for artists to print their own work; custom printing for artists who do not want to print their own work; and an Artist In Residence program.
KickArts Contemporary Arts commissions and publishes new fine art prints and professionally distributes these to commercial galleries, collectors, public institutions and online. KickArts also curates printmaking exhibitions for touring nationally and internationally.

Changing times at Djumbunji Press

In 2013 KickArts faced the tough decision of keeping the Djumbunji Press doors open, after exhausting every avenue for renewed financial support. If we kept underwriting a space that was costing more to run than the income it earned, KickArts’ future would have been in jeopardy. Government priorities have markedly changed and funding is even more competitive to attract. 

After talks with artists, Traditional Owners, UMI Arts, the Indigenous Art Centre Alliance (IACA), Inkmasters Cairns, Canopy Arts and interstate peers we realised no other art group was prepared to permanently share or take over the operating costs of this well-equipped studio.

KickArts fulfilled the goals of the former state government’s policy between 2008 and 2012 (Backing Indigenous Arts) by training Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island artists to increase the supply of prints. Hundreds of editions of striking works on paper were produced in a professional studio setting over that period. The best of these linoprints, etchings and other printed works on paper were, and remain, commercially viable for their makers and for KickArts to promote and sell.

In late 2013 one organisation came forward with a vision to expand the studio’s purpose: a supported workshop space for people with physical and intellectual impairments. ARC Disability Services’ main base is in Little Street, North Cairns, a few blocks from Djumbunji Press. ARC has retained a printmaking area within Djumbunji Press, with the Inkmasters group accessing this space on a regular basis in 2014.

In a significant over-hall, ARC will open up the space for use as a more general studio area. Inkmasters has a considerable membership of Indigenous artists and ARC also has Indigenous clients. So in many ways the function and spirit of Djumbunji Press will remain in place.

KickArts extends our warmest wishes to ARC Disability Services for a successful transition to a productive and supported studio space. And as our valued partner, KickArts looks forward to our shared efforts to nurture the creation of a local outsider art genre there.

The Djumbunji name

Djumbunji is a Yidinji word and translates as 'belongs to the scorpion place'. This is the area known as Mount Whitfield, or Bunda Djumbunji (Scorpion Mountain). The story of Kuiam the warrior is a prominent legend that links the Yidinji people of Cairns and the people of the Torres Strait.

Scorpion Story

Kuiamguyuru (the Cyclone) was a young Yidinji warrior whose home was at Girriwandi Waree (Woree), the mouth of Trinity Inlet, Cairns. On his journey to become a man his father Kwiol showed him how to use the woomera and spear at a site named Giraba. His first right of passage was to fight the Djumbun (Scorpion) who lived north of Gimuy (Cairns). This fight lasted for many days, from which Kuiamguyuru bore the scars inflicted by the scorpion on his chest and shoulder. He killed the scorpion where it lays today at Bunda Djumbunji and continued his journey north where he travelled to the tip of Cape York. It was here that Kuiamguyuru made stilts from wood and travelled across the water to the Islands of the Torres Strait.

Told by Seith Fourmile, Yidinji, Cairns

The Legend of Kuiam

Kuiamguyuru, after arriving in the Torres Strait, took a wife, Kuinam and they had a child whom they named Kuiam. Kuiam lived with his blind mother Kuinam and his Uncle Tomagan at Gumu. As Kuiam grew into manhood his thoughts turned to fighting. Being of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lineage, he learnt to throw spears with his father's woomera from a young age until he was expert in their use, but he also fashioned two emblems, Giribu and Kutibu (that he wore on his chest and back), which he endowed with special powers. Kuiam spent his life as a fearless warrior guided by the Giribu and Kutibu, instilling both great terror and awe in people throughout the Torres Strait Islands and across to the mainland of Papua New Guinea. Upon his final fight, when he was struck down and killed, several men rushed in with their bamboo knives to behead Kuiam but they were stopped by their leaders who said 'Don't cut off his head for he is a great man with a wise head, a head teeming with ideas, a clever head; let him lie where he stood for he mastered all of his surroundings (the islands).' So instead of insulting the great warrior, they honoured him, piling over his dead body their bows and arrows, spears and stone clubs, saying as they went about this that now that Kuiam was dead all the fighting was over.

Told by Brian Robinson, Cairns