The history of the studio
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts course in Cairns began in 1984 during a particular period in Australian history. A host of problems for contemporary students that emerged during the field period were related to people not ‘knowing the history’ of the studio. The biggest misunderstanding lay in the misconception of the Technical and Further Education (TAFE) First Nations studio as a mainstream invention. The high point of the TAFE studio was around 2000 when artists such as Brian Robinson, Lisa Michl, Shaun Edwards Kalk, Alick Tipoti, Dennis Nona, Ceferino Sabatino were becoming internationally known but the 1990s saw a great deal of activity which led to that high point. TAFE students without heritage links to Laura were not seen as appropriately culturally connected to use Quinkan imagery. The students’ disconnect with country and concepts of the traditional created a very specific rhetoric in the published accounts of TAFE.