CIAF Series – Janina Harding

Episode 91

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Host Mundanara Bayles is guided by Aboriginal Terms of Reference which is the accumulated knowledge that Aboriginal people developed over the tens of thousands of years of living in this land, now known as Australia.

Relationships are at the core of Aboriginal Culture and Society and in our whole history of living in this country we never invaded our neighbours.

An Aboriginal Terms of Reference introduction is based on “Who you are and not what you do”, this way of introduction has been practiced by Aboriginal people since the first sunrise. From an Aboriginal perspective this way of introduction reinforces our humaness, we are much more than our job titles.

Janina Harding is a proud Meriam (Erub/Mer) woman, who is currently the Artistic Director of the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF). She has over thirty years of experience in and across the Indigenous art sector (ranging from leading various cultural and employment programs, who has experience in public broadcasting, boasting exceptional prowess in event management and programming).

A daughter of Eleanor Harding, she hails from Melbourne, Victoria but currently lives in Cairns, Queensland where, for the last seven years, she has been reconnecting with her roots and actively bolstering the Indigenous art output of Queensland.

Having served two terms on the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Arts Board of the Australia Council—as well as two terms on the Torres Strait Islander Advisory Board for the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC)— Harding brings a keen national focus, encapsulating contemporary and more traditional insights to her practice as a Cultural Practitioner and Worker.

Prior to her move to Tropical North Queensland, from 2001-2015 Harding worked for the City of Melbourne, managing the Indigenous Arts Program. Throughout her tenure, she curated, established and produced the Indigenous Film Festival Blak Nite Cinema, and the Melbourne Indigenous Arts Festival. Harding also established the City of Melbourne’s inaugural Indigenous Mentorship Program—opening the door for aspiring arts managers, directors and producers, providing professional networks with Melbourne’s major cultural institutions.

In more recent years, Harding assumed the post of Artistic Director of the CIAF. In year’s prior to 2015, audience attendance to CIAF peaked at 27,000. Through Harding’s reinvigorated and expanded programming (brining in new mediums/modes of art and expression, as well as diversifying the creative participation in CIAF), in 2016 visitation numbers soared to 50,000 (a steadily growing figure, until 2020). With Harding’s unique stamp on the event, she has transformed CIAF as being greater than an Art Fair.

CIAF is now celebrated as being Australia’s premier Indigenous art fair, enjoying global interest and wide-reaching domestic acclaim. But, through Harding’s influence, it has become a melting pot of inclusivity, embracing and empowering artists and communities, in celebrating the two cultures of this country’s First Peoples, their artforms and ever-changing cultures.

Janina Harding continues to embrace the broader arts industry, ever curious about creative endeavours and advances in contemporary art movements from across the country. This passion, for the arts and for Indigenous peoples, remains her driving force, forever inspiring her to forge new pathways for their longevity and success, and to inspire the broader arts industry to engage in best practice methods with Indigenous creatives.

Recommendations throughout this episode:


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The Black Magic Woman Podcast is hosted by Mundanara Bayles and is an uplifting conversational style program featuring mainly Aboriginal guests and explores issues of importance to Aboriginal people and communities. Mundanara is guided by Aboriginal Terms of Reference and focusses more on who people are rather than on what they do.

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Black Magic WomanEpisode 91