📅 Saturday 7th September 2024
⏰ 3pm – 9pm
🌳 Munro Martin Parklands, Cairns
UMI Arts is looking for FNQ First Nations performers, artists, cultural practitioners and businesses to help us make Big Talk One Fire Festival the biggest and best yet in 2024! A day of celebration, sharing, storytelling, song, dance, art, workshops, food and yarning, all presented by First Nations performers, artists, & cultural leaders from across Far North Queensland, Big Talk One Fire 2024 will again be held at at our new home at the lush Munro Martin Park in Cairns.

Counting down to Opening Ceremony...











UMI Arts’ 16th annual Indigenous cultural festival of music, dance, culture and arts.

UMI Arts presented the 16th annual Big Talk One Fire First Nations Cultural Festival on Saturday 16th September 2023, even bigger and better than ever, at our new home at Munro Martin Park in Cairns. In 2023, BTOF Festival was expanded and enlarged to include the Big Talk Symposium, with a panel of cultural leaders, as well as a more interactive workshop and activity program.
This was a day of celebration, sharing, storytelling, song, dance, art, workshops, food and yarning, all presented by First Nations performers, artists, & cultural leaders from across Far North Queensland.
 BTOF kicked off with a beautiful Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony, with dance performances by the Boigu Island Dance Group and Jiritju Fourmaile. After the Opening Ceremony we launched the Symposium, a   lively afternoon of artist talks and panel discussions. Meanwhile the rest of the Park was bustling with the First Nations art market, dance workshops, plenty of kids activities, face-painting, storytelling, and tasty treats from some of Cairns fave food vans… then as the sun went down the main stage welcomed a deadly line-up of First Nations performers 🎤🪘🎺🎸


JAHZ, Djun Djun Jarra, Cold Water Band, Broden Tyrell, Dizzy Doolan, Mau Power

Images courtesy Lovegreen Photography

Big Talk One Fire 2023 was made possible by supprt from our valued Event Sponsors: 

Kowanyama Messamate Humpy Project

As part of the larger Kowanyama Project, transport of a selection of museum objects were brought to Cairns from the Kowanyama Collection to complement the Algngga installation with other Olkola cultural objects. A selection of traditional woven baskets made by Olkola (Egng ojow Yam Clan) master weaver Doreen Yam were exhibited as a feature of the installation. Viv Sinnamon (Curator Kowanyama Collection) was assisted by UMI Arts curators in the installation of the shelter model and cultural objects. Stories were developed by Tom Hearn of Bush TV with members of three clans of the Olkola community at Kowanyama. Singing of the sugarbag song was performed by Hazel Barr, Olkola: Egng ojow Sugarbag Clan Elder. Olkola men, Simpson Yam, Craig Goggleye and Stafford Yam who participated in the Algngga Project attended the opening of the installation attended by the Federal Member for Leichardt, Warren Ensch and the Deputy Mayor of Cairns City Council.

UMI Arts Big Talk One Fire Symposium 2022

On 9 June 2022 UMI Arts presented the second annual BIG TALK ONE FIRE SYMPOSIUM. This jam-packed full-day symposium was held at the beautiful Bulmba-ja Arts Centre, with a panel discussing a range of issues concerning the Indigenous arts industry. This was a rare opportunity for the Far North Indigenous arts community to come together from far and wide for a day of information sharing, yarning and networking. Presenters included: local UMI Arts member artists; industry experts from Flying Arts Alliance, Arts+Law, the Copyright Agency; and various funding bodies, tourism industry leaders, and arts workers and managers from the Cairns region, including Cairns Regional Council. Welcome to Country was conducted by Henri Fourmile; entertainment was provided by The Yidinji dancers and the Torres Strait Dancers.

This event was made possible by funding from Arts Queensland. Footage courtesy Maxwell Media. 


Welcoming the new UMI Arts Board:

Smoking and Welcome Ceremony

with Minjil

In August 2022, under the leadership of our newly appointed Chairperson and Board members, UMI Arts asked Traditional Owners Minjil to provide our team with a culturally significant ceremony, to mark a clean, fresh start, and energy for the rest of the year and into the future. Our team was honoured to participate in a smoking ritual and to receive a cultural and spiritual welcome to Gimuy-Barra (Cairns).
Minjil is an Indigenous cultural group connecting people from all backgrounds with country, culture and age-old traditions, through song, dance, lore and education.
Our great thanks to Minjil and all who participated.
Footage courtesy Lovegreen Photography.


‘A Taste of Culture’

workshop series

@ the Cairns Court House

Held every second Saturday from 12 March to 25 June 2022, ‘A Taste of Culture’ was a series of free workshops delivered by UMI Arts and Cairns Court House. A series of demonstrations, lectures and presentations was designed to offer an insight into the creative and cultural practices of some of our region’s best loved Indigenous artists and creators, in one of the most beautiful venuie and gallery spaces in the city. Visitors could spend an hour or so with the likes of traditional carver, Kel Williams; Tjapukai artist, Natasha Davui; and Yidinji artist and printmaker, Paul Bong. These workshops proved to be a huge success with tourists and Cairns lcoals alike, who were enthusiastic for the opportunity to learn more about some of the arts and cultural practices of the region’s most talented First Nations artists.
Footage courtesy Lovegreen Photography. 


UMI Arts’ 15th annual Indigenous cultural festival of music, dance, culture and arts.
This is a free, fun, and family oriented event open to all. With an awesome lineup of deadly musicians and dancers from across Far North Queensland and the Torres Strait Islands, Big Talk One Fire also features an arts market showcasing local and Indigenous crafts and wares, yummy tukka stalls, and kids activities to keep everyone busy. This is a wonderful day of cultural recognition and celebration on the beautiful Cairns Esplanande.
Footage courtesy Blueclick Photography and Maxwell media. 

“The Artist: Kel Williams”

Filmed and directed by Gregg Maxwell and produced by UMI Arts, with support from Cairns Regional Council, this short film celebrates one of Far North Queensland’s artist Elders, Kel Williams. 

“People need to know about people like Kel, who as an Elder statesman and long-time member of UMI Arts, has made an immense contribution to our regional community through his talent and artwork that authentically speaks to culture and Country. We are excited to share this film, which is destined to be a lasting legacy about one man’s experience and the close ties that bind culture and Country to community.”

Peter Lenoy, Executive Officer, UMI Arts

With Ugar (Stephen Island) Guuguyimidhirr (Cape York) heritage, Kel was born and raised in Cairns but now lives in Bellenden Kerr where he practises his visual art specialising in wood carving. While Kel admits that he is also a brush artist, he says that is more about work for the tourist market while he is better known for his beautiful, collectible Aboriginal figures and carvings of Australian native animals. From the age of 10, long before turning his artistic talent into a full-time career, Kel was learning the traditions of wood carving under the tutelage of his grandfather. After completing his trade certificate in boat building during the 70s he applied his skills to commercial industry. Turning his hand to art, he later, in the early noughties, undertook and completed a Certificate IV in Assessment and Workplace Training in 2004, which qualified him to share his craft, teaching wood carving to emerging artists across many remote Aboriginal and Island communities all around Cape York. Not surprisingly, Kel has also established himself as an expert in creating wooden boat models that reference the old pearl luggers that were used in the Torres Strait. Along with his boats and native animals, there is a range of fine jewellery and a new exploration into print making – producing contemporary linocut prints thanks to the support of UMI Arts’ workshops and studio.

‘The Artist: Kel Williams’ is available for purchase at the UMI Arst Gallery and Gift Shop. 

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