Wednesday, July 21, 2010


JUTE Theatre is excited to present Blackbird — a music theatre piece debuting August 20-28 as part of the official programs of the Cairns Festival and Cairns Indigenous Art Fair

Thursday 22 July, 2010. Blackbird’s opening night audience will be stunned by its emotional impact, says JUTE Theatre Artistic Director and CEO Suellen Maunder.

Ms Maunder anticipates the song cycle, about six generations of inspirational North Queensland women, will leave, “not a dry eye in the theatre”.

Blackbird is an epic tale told in song by 26-year-old Megan Sarmardin, a talented Indigenous artist whose moving songs are based on the memories of her great grandmother, Flora, 95.

“I watched a run through of the show yesterday…and it is so beautiful — there will not be a dry eye in the theatre.  Megan is so engaging and yet ordinary and real all at the same time.  She has a magnificent voice and stage presence — the audience will just want to wrap her up and take her home!” Ms Maunder says.

Megan's powerful vocals bring to the stage the dramatic history of a proud Aboriginal family that traces its roots to the earliest Russian Czars on one side, and on the other to the ancient Ngadjon-ji tribe that has lived on the Atherton Tablelands since time immemorial.

Blackbird celebrates resilience, courage, humour and family through the stories of six strong female characters.

Flora's mother Kitty fell in love with Russian migrant Leandro Illin. In 1915 they walked from Butcher’s Creek near Malanda to Innisfail to be married, defying the law and both black and white societies. Kitty's mother, Emily, was one of the only Ngadjon-ji elders to remain living around Malanda after the rainforest tribes were taken to settlements. In 1955 and aged 85, Emily was snatched from her country to Palm Island, where she died.

“This is an epic tale, but again very ordinary story about ordinary Australian folks doing extraordinary things, and these stories stretch back to first contact.  The story is not about white and black but about injustice and fighting for your family to stay together.  It’s a story about how love can overcome the mean spirited,” Ms Maunder says.

Blackbird is showing from August 20-28 at JUTE Theatre, North Queensland's leading theatre company. It is part of the Cairns Festival's official program and also an official event of the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair.

JUTE Theatre, 96 Abbot Street, Cairns, Q 4870
20 – 28 August
Tuesday – Wednesday 6.30pm
Thursday – Saturday 8.00pm
Thursday 26 August 11.00am
Adults $30; Conc/QAC Members $27; Groups (5+) $25/ea; Under 25yrs $25; Tuesday $17

Bookings  ticketLiNK
T 1300 855 835 Or book online


Nominations are open for the Recycled Royals — two environmental heroes to be honoured in the 2010 Cairns Festival Opening Parade.

Royalty could be lurking in a landfill near you — Recycled Royalty, that is.

Set to be the crown jewel of the 2010 Cairns Festival Parade, the Recycled Royals is a special Cairns Regional Council float devoted to the pair deemed to have made the greatest contribution to our beautiful natural environment.

Cairns Festival Parade organisers are seeking nominations for our region's King and Queen of Green, who will shed gardening gloves for the day and perfect their regal wave from the float as they pass the 20,000 strong crowd along the Esplanade on Saturday 21 August .

“Cairns Festival is looking for any outstanding community members that have devoted time and energy into devising or implementing green initiatives in our community,” Cairns Festival Parade coordinator Nerissa Brandenberger said.

“In the current environmental climate we want to acknowledge the wonderful locals that are acting to make the world a better place for us all.”

Ms Brandenberger said great prizes are on offer, including cash prizes for the two people crowned as Recycled Royals. Perhaps the biggest honour will be the recognition of hard work and dedication on behalf of our environment and local sustainability.

Talented local artists Meiyin Ahnsuz and Hans Jurrs have been enlisted to create the Recycled Royals float and costumes, and they are doing so almost entirely from recycled materials.

“For their commitment to preserving and conserving the natural wonder of our area, they're heroes in my view and I'm delighted to ensure they'll be dressed to shine for the Festival Parade,” said Meiyin.

The Recycled Royals will make a regal entry in Festival’s Opening Parade, heralded by the 60 strong member Cairnsbands performing rock marches before the King and Queen as their personal Regal Orchestra.  Cairnsbands incorporates three performing groups: Tropical Brass, Cairns Concert Band and Cairns Youth Stage Band and for this event only, will join with Woree High School Band.

About the Artists:

Hans Jurss has been performing and sculpting since 1996 - starting at Adelaide Fringe in Earth Circus and then moved to Melbourne and created his own circus toy box while  inventing his own style of show and sculpted backdrops. He has also worked with Melbourne Under Ground Development for many years creating installations for corporate and local electric music festivals. In 2002 he rode around the world on a bicycle.

Meiyin Ahnsuz is a  freelance artist, based in Cairns, who travels internationally for work and inspiration. Her career began during high school, with the creation of avant-garde, haute couture for inner-city Brisbane boutiques and an acting role for an ABC TV series. For the past four years Meiyin has enjoyed a close association with JUTE Theatre and Tropical Arts, working regularly as Set and Costume Designer or in Production Management. Greatly inspired by  nature and the  vibrant, diverse and creative culture of the Cairns region, Meiyin is delighted to be creating costumes for the King and Queen of Green.

“For their commitment to preserving and conserving the natural wonder of our area, they're heroes in my view and I'm delighted to ensure they'll be dressed to shine for the Festival Parade,” said Meiyin.

To have your say in who will grace the Recycled Royals float, nominate your king or queen of the green via Southern Cross Media’s website and then click on Recycled Royals page. Then in 100 words or less explain why the individual they are nominating should be a Recycled Royal.

For more information contact Nerissa Brandenberger on (07) 40443332 or email

Cairns Festival is supported and presented by Cairns Regional Council. Now the region's largest annual cultural celebration, this year's festival season will run from August 20 to September 5 at venues all over Cairns. The full program, and information about events and activities, will be available in late July. For more information visit

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Stop the traffic with your Cairns Festival float

Friday, 16 July, 2010. There are only two weeks to get your 2010 Cairns Festival Parade entry forms in!

Registrations close on Friday 30 July. This is the last chance for Cairns residents to be involved and have a chance of winning considerable parade prize money in three separate categories.

The 2010 Cairns Festival Parade is set for Saturday 21 August when more than 50 floats and hundreds of participants pull out all stops to entertain the 20,000 strong crowd.

Cairns Festival’s 17 day long party begins on Friday 20 August and runs to Sunday, 5 September at locations around the city and region.

Cairns Festival Parade coordinators Nerissa Brandenberger and Mark Edwards are calling for parade participants and float-builders from the entire far North to complete planning how they will celebrate local culture and sense of place.

"More than any other event on the calendar, the Festival Parade brings people together to celebrate the joys of living in this diverse, extraordinary region. It is about unbridled creativity, releasing your inner essence and showing off your community," Ms Brandenberger said.

Ms Brandenberger has developed new support for walking floats, marching groups without vehicles and an individual participant category for those wanting to add their own identity to the moving feast of people, sound and colour.

"We are eagerly anticipating the creativity and originality that local people put into their floats and individual parade presence. We expect a mix of the outrageous, the traditional, the artistic and the multicultural," Ms Brandenberger said.

Based at the Festival office, Ms Brandenberger and Mr Edwards are available to assist prospective participants with the finer details and necessary resources. Several pre-parade community workshops are planned this month including drumming and carnival mask making.

To learn how you or your group can get involved, request an information packet from the Festival Office at Cairns Regional Council on 4044-3086 or email

Cairns Festival is supported and presented by Cairns Regional Council. Now the region's largest annual cultural celebration, this year's festival season will run from 20 August to 5 September at venues all over Cairns. The full program, and information about events and activities, will be available in late July. For more information visit

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

"Cruelty defies belief" - QLD Inspector Cameron Buswell

It takes a lot to shock RSPCA Qld Inspector Cameron Buswell. Over the years he’s investigated numerous acts of animal cruelty that have caused community outrage. But even he was stunned at the state of a dog found last Thursday at the Lock and Ross public picnic area. The 18 month old female Staffy cross was found with her muzzle taped shut with electrical wire and her throat slashed.

“The cruelty involved defies belief,” he said. “The poor dog must have been petrified. How she didn’t die is miraculous.”

The RSPCA and the council both received calls about the dog and she was immediately taken to the veterinary surgeon to have her throat stitched. She is recovering well and is currently being cared for by Tina Martin from the Council’s animal management team.

RSPCA Qld is calling on members of the public to come forward if they have any information that may help them establish exactly what happened on the day.

“We don’t know the circumstances behind the attack so any information would be appreciated,” said Inspector Buswell.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Kay Millett – “Glass Under Fire” Exhibition at c1907

Bright, vibrant and unique glass sculptural pieces create an energetic colourful display, contrasting sharply with the stark white exhibition space that is c1907 in the City Place.

Local artist Kay Millett uses bursts of colour to accent the transparent and fluid nature of the glass sculptures, encouraging the transmission of light, thus transfusing them with a life of their own.

“Glass Under Fire” refers to the process of using a kiln to fuse and slump glass to engineer a new creation.  Pieces of glass are fused together in the first firing and once complete, the piece can be left in a flat state, or slumped to give depth and shape.  Faces, busts and bodies in the exhibition have been formed using this slumping technique.

Themes of people, nature and urban landscape are dominant.  “Canefire Across the Barron” refers to an event that once was a regular occurance around Cairns. “Snake Tree” uses a technique that was discovered by Kay and is an innovation in the field of glass art.  Actual snake skin is fired between layers of glass to release the lustre contained within the skin.  This can cause bubbling and explosions – always an impressive result.

A diverse collection comprising one-off creations with large sculptures, smaller pieces and wall art and plates awaits to delight and intrigue the viewer at C1907.  This different and inspiring exhibition will run to 31st July 2010.