Sam Davis

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City Faces captures vibrant community

Visual artist Priscilla Ong will reveal some of Cairns’ colourful history through the eyes of its diverse and sometimes quirky community members.


A century of change, triumph and heartbreak will be documented through a daring new photographic exhibition set to be unveiled in Cairns later this year.

Artist Priscilla Ong’s ‘City Faces of 100 years’ will open in late April, using portraits of Cairns residents to tell old and new stories that have helped define our community. 

Ms Ong, who is currently interviewing and photographing subjects for the exhibit, says personal stories can often reflect the broader experiences of others living in the region.

“The aim is to capture the individuality of each person,” she says, “but at the same time we’re all tied together because we share the same community.”

“My idea was to explore the concept of belonging. What does it mean to be from Cairns?

“What are people passionate about and what makes them who they are?

“How do we come together and live together?

“Whether your were born here or not, or you were just passing through and fell in love with the place, or you’re a refugee … we are all part of Cairns’ story.”

'City Faces' will feature participants born in each year from 1917 through to 2016.

Ms Ong says the stories shared by older residents have been fascinating.

“Someone was telling me yesterday that Earlville was once just sugarcane fields. You don’t think about that when you drive through,” she says.

“We stop listening to older people sometimes. I’m pretty sure there are stories to share, we just need to provide the context.

“People have all these stories but not always somewhere to share it. Sometimes our conversations are so superficial and we just talk about what Netflix series we watch.

“This is a chance to get to know people and ourselves a little better.”

‘City Faces of 100 Years’ opens Friday April 28 at the Tanks Arts Centre.

To find out more about the project, visit Ms Ong’s website here.