BUNDABERG, the gateway to the Southern Great Barrier Reef, is playing host to a troupe of local and touring artists, acrobats, writers, filmmakers, choir singers and Indigenous designers until October 15 for Crush Festival 2017.
The 10-day festival kicked off in style with the Dambali First Nations fashion exhibition and forum last Friday, October 6 at the Bundaberg School of Arts.
Dambali curating artist Julie Appo will host the event, celebrating the region's Indigenous fashion, textile design and wearable art creations and is the culmination of two years of work that has seen Appo engage with Indigenous artists learning to use their art for fabric printing.
The Gooreng Gooreng word for 'tracks' - 'Dambali' - symbolises progress and moving forward, a theme that will be explored in connection with the global market for Indigenous fashion at the Dambali Fashion Forum.
Ms Appo said this was the first time Dambali First Nations fashion exhibition will be held as part of the Crush Festival.
"One of its primary functions is to invite discussion for a more extensive event for next year which will see more activities, fashion parades and performances," She said.
"All textile designers are emerging designers and while they have no previous experience in this discipline, their designs are creative, beautiful and of a high standard."
Ms Appo said Dambali would highlight the work of some Fraser Coast artists, including Joyce Bonner, Karen Mohamed and Maxine Zealey of Hervey Bay and Raymond Burns of Maryborough.
All designers are influenced by their culture and traditions with Joyce Bonner being a linguist and speaker of her traditional Butchulla language.
Crush Festival coordinator Ainsley Gatley said Julie was invitied to the Cairns Indigenous arts fair in 2011 and 2013 as a guest speaker for an initiative to start the Indigenous textile and fashion industry.
"Afterwards she decided to do something in the Wide Bay region, closer to home," Ms Gatley said.
"She developed the Fashioning our Futures which was mainly skills development in graphic arts.
"Stage one saw classes held in Bundaberg, Hervey Bay, Eidsvold and Brisbane.
"She sent invitations to other towns and cities but these were the ones who responded.
"Stage two saw the designers, featuring textile designs in Dambali, attending a masterclass in Eidsvold.
"Linda Jackson, famed nationally and internationally for her textile designs also attended the masterclass as a mentor, with a French film crew documenting the event.
"Stage three - Dambali presentation to the market.
"This is where we are now with Crush 2017 giving us the perfect opportunity to do so."
Ms Gatley said the aim of this year's event is to support Julie and to help create a foundation for future events promoting Indigenous design and wearable art.
"The idea of Dambali was to create a regional platform to showcase the textile designs of students who had attended a graphics textile design program conducted by Julie Appo in selected centres throughout the Wide Bay.
"It is envisaged that with exposure of their works, Dambali would help raise the profiles of the textile designers within the fashion and soft furnishings industries.
"Julie Appo, as a trained fashion designer, will take the printed materials and create garments for exhibition," she said.
Crush Festival artistic director Shelley Pisani said this year's program will attract and delight arts and culture crowds of all ages with music, art, circus, fashion and so much more.
"Crush is a ten-day celebration of the wealth of talent we have in our region and beyond.
"The 2017 program is packed full of fantastic experiences in beautiful outdoor spaces and venues to bring the community and its visitors together through the arts," Ms Pisani said.
Midweek Crush Markets & More
Childers and Bundaberg Studio Tours
Travelling Film Festival
The Spirit of Bundaberg
Visit crushfestivalqld.com.au for a full line up.