22 March 2024

UMI Arts exhibition season kicks off with two Cape York artists

| Chisa Hasegawa
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Dorothy Edwards and Lisa Michl Ko-manggén with the artworks

The Kokoberrin mum-and-daughter duo Dorothy Edwards and Lisa Michl Ko-manggén are featured in this year’s UMI Arts You & Me exhibition. Photo: Chisa Hasegawa.

The 2024 UMI Arts exhibition season has officially begun with the annual You & Me showcase, featuring two artists exploring family and connection to Kokoberrin on western Cape York.

The opening night revealed 30 artworks by 15 First Nations artists to the Cairns public, showcasing the rich diversity of culture across Far North Queensland.

For Cairns born-and-raised artist Dorothy Edwards, painting was a way to connect to Country.

She said her stepfather, a crocodile hunter, took her and her siblings up to Country to connect with their mother’s culture.

“If he never took us up there when we was kids, we would have never went up there, because we’re born in Cairns and learned the white way, and I can’t even speak language,” the artist said.

“There’s a lot of years I missed on Country.”

Telling Cape York Weekly about her paintings before the opening, Ms Edwards said she liked to use bright colours in all of her artworks to represent the beauty of nature.

“What you see up there is what you get in here,” she said.

“It’s not artificial, and it’s from our land up in the Cape York.”

Ms Edwards said she was proud to be showcased alongside her daughter and UMI Arts artistic director Lisa Michl Ko-manggén.

She said her kids always had a knack for art, starting as toddlers with a box of crayons and some paper.

“It sort of went from two years old, and they always kept that,” she said.

“They used to muck around and draw and it never stopped; it’s natural for them.

“I followed them around all exhibitions over the years; I was there for them, I supported them.”

Ms Michl Ko-manggén, who has been working in the art scene for 26 years, also explores aspects of Kokoberrin Country and culture.

“My latest work shares stories about time spent on Country with my Elders and family,” she said.

“I’ve done a series about collecting pipi shells and to our family, it’s known as the pipi shell shuffle, so the work that I’ve done reflects that and just the fun around collecting pipis on the beaches.”

Ms Edwards got into painting much later into adulthood, encouraged by her children to give it a go.

“I wouldn’t have done any art if it wasn’t for my children,” she said.

“They inspired me and they’re proud of me.”

You & Me 2024 is open to the public until 10 May, 2024, and can be viewed Monday to Friday from 10am-4pm at UMI Arts, 4/1 Jensen Street, Manoora.

Dorothy Edwards profile with her artwork

Artist Dorothy Edwards said she was able to connect to Country through her painting, and wishes the same for her grandkids. Photo: Chisa Hasegawa.

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