Indigenous artist Sid Bruce Short Joe speaks nine Indigenous languages, but the Pormpuraaw Elder says there is one English word that just doesn’t translate.

18 December 2019

‘We have no word for art in my language,’ he told the crowd gathered at the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair 2019.

‘Art is a new language for me to share my culture and knowledge passed down from the old ones. For my people, we had the law and all these things were one. Country, language, culture and art.’

Badu Island artist, Laurie Nona, agrees Indigenous languages and art are intertwined.

‘You cannot explain art really in detail unless you know language, because language is the connection to Country,’ Laurie said while displaying his intricate lino prints at the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair.

Moa Island artist Flora Warria believes this is one of the reasons it is so important to help preserve her language – as well as the ancient craft of weaving which is distinct to her Torres Strait Island community.

‘I speak fluently my language but over the years I've taken notice that it has been starting to fade away in our children now but I still speak language in my home and the language, it identifies who we are,’ Flora said.

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