Annabel Bowles

Tropic Now journalist

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Renowned local ceramicist and painter launches first solo exhibition

An established Cairns artist launches her solo exhibition today, following almost two decades of making and teaching art. 

Susan Reys will exhibit a collection of acrylic paintings on canvas and ceramics at UMI Arts over the next five weeks. 

It’s a first for the ceramicist, painter and co-owner of Kgari 3 Sisters – an art gallery, store, and ceramics workspace on the corner of Aplin St and McLeod St.

The exhibition, Duliny the Artist: Susan Reys, comes after Susan’s participation in UMI Arts ‘Exhibition Ready’ program under the mentorship of curator Trish Barnard.

“Although Susan is a very experienced ceramicist who has been operating her successful retail business Kgari 3 Sisters for many years, this is, rather surprisingly, the artist’s first ever solo exhibition,” Trish said.

“Her works are inspired by various symbols found on rock art and carved trees within Country and the marks made in the sand during traditional storytelling.

Born and raised in Cairns, Susan is a descendant of the Badtjala people of Fraser Island through her great grandmother and a Dharrpa Warra woman through her great grandfather.

“These works pay homage to ‘Matji the Rainmaker’, her great grandfather at Starcke who Susan described as a man of dignity and stature in his community who endured through the time of colonisation,” Trish said. 

Susan said she feels privileged to know her family history and bloodline.  

“When we used to return to my great grandfather’s land at Starcke I was always excited to learn what I could from my Elders,” Susan said. 

“Mum and my uncle taught us stories and customs for spiritually connecting to the land and taught us how to listen carefully to the ancestor.”

The UMI Arts ‘Exhibition Ready’ program guides and mentors First Nations artists through gallery exhibition preparation, presentation and promotion – leading to a six week long exhibition in Cairns.

UMI Arts, located at Shop 4/1 Jensen St, is open 10am to 4pm on weekdays. Duliny the Artist: Susan Reys runs until January 16.