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New name, new artworks and new vision for Centre of Contemporary Arts Cairns

The $5.9 million refurbishment for the Centre of Contemporary Arts Cairns (CoCA) will see the cultural facility re-open with a new name and new vision.

The new name of the refurbished arts centre will be Bulmba-ja (pronounced BULL-im-baa-jar), a name selected by the Traditional Owners peoples of the region from both the Yirrgandydji and Yidinji groups, meaning house. The meaning of the name Bulmba-ja is appropriate for the site’s new focus as a place for the development and presentation of new work, particularly contemporary First Nations work.

Bulmba-ja will be an ongoing home to JUTE Theatre Company and NorthSite Contemporary Arts (formerly KickArts), along with new tenants Miriki Performing Arts and The Pryce Centre for Culture and Arts. Exciting new projects will be presented at Bulmba-ja in 2020 and beyond, showcasing the work of indigenous artists and providing a place for visitors to engage with arts experiences.

Along with a vibrant and welcoming new look, Bulmba-ja incorporates a Yarning Circle and Elder’s lounge along with a unique integrated LED facade which will display a series of five digital artworks over 2020, commissioned by NorthSite Contemporary Arts. The first two works to feature on the facade are from artists Bernard Singleton (Umpila, Djabuguy/Yirrganydji) and Carl Fourmile (Yidinji).

“I’m working with drawings on photographs of the Inlet and this Country, Gimuy,” Mr Fourmile said.

“I love to be able to network and share with locals and the wider community about culture and our beliefs, so people can have a bit more understanding about this Country, and what it is to be a Bama person.”

Fellow artist Bernard Singleton said, “My design is Dadikal – the fishbone totem. Symmetry in initiation and protection by our totems binded in ochres.

“I see works on this scope as a grounding within the arts community and seeing how different approaches can portray a true connection to Country and community. This is an example of when respect, engagement and understanding results in showcasing traditional connections to Country,” Mr Singleton said.

Bulmba-ja includes a new foyer, improved theatre and gallery access, flexible office space, upgraded theatre equipment and new studio spaces for arts participation and development activities.

For more information visit Bulmba-ja (formerly Centre of Contemporary Arts Cairns).

Header image: Carl Fourmile (L) and Bernard Singleton (R) in front of their artworks which are the first two to be projected onto the Bulmba-ja LED facade. Photos: Courtesy NorthSite Contemporary Arts and Blueclick Photography.