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Kaff-eine’s Infinite Thanks

IT’S PRETTY RARE for national artistic projects to start in Darwin. Which is precisely why artist Kaff-eine is so keen to see her travelling project, Infinite Thanks, come to life in the Top End.

The artist is inviting the LGBTQIA+ community and its allies to come forward to share their stories and pick up a paintbrush for the project, as part of her residency at Mayfair Gallery.

The exhibition features a collection of ex votos – small paintings with written stories of rainbow Territorian life – made in gratitude and dedicated to LGBTQIA+ saints and deities.

“I’m an atheist but I love the idea that the queer community have their own icons who become these queer deities and gods. I thought, wouldn’t it be cool to turn this catholic painting tradition and have lots of beautiful little paintings about what we’re grateful for, but queer it up?” she says.

“The point of it is to get a national collection of stories about LGBTQIA+ life about positivity and gratefulness.”

Kaff-eine offers a series of casual workshops this month, where she’ll support LGBTQIA+ Territorian adults of all creative abilities to share their stories and paint their own ex votos to their own divine beings, for the exhibition. 

Stories already shared with Kaff-eine for the project include coming-out tales, stories of escaping vehicle accidents at Pride parades, surviving being bashed outside gay clubs, and celebrating queer love. Kaff-eine hopes that NT collaborators will bring a uniquely Territorian feel to the project. 

“I hope that some of us paint queer stories with crocodiles, mangroves, tropical themes, Throb, or road trains in there somewhere,” she laughs.

“A lot of the time you read about rainbow folk, you hear about the hard trials we’ve had for human rights – there’s a whole lot of negativity. I don’t want to shy away from that. I want to hear those stories of gratitude that don’t hide from those terrible things, but turn it on its head – like, ‘I’m thankful I made it through high school without being bullied to death’.”

The first leg of the exhibition will coincide with the Pride Festival and Mayfair’s annual Gayfair celebration, before heading to Melbourne in February. She hopes to get funding to see the exhibition grow and tour to remote and regional areas.

“Australia isn’t just Melbourne,  Sydney and Brisbane, and the further you get away from the capital cities the more challenging it can be for rainbow people, especially younger people. It’s about making something and sharing it with Australia. It’s a nice way for people from different parts of Australia to connect.”


Image 1: Kaff-eine, 2013, by Rowena Naylor | Image 2: Example of Kaff-eine's ex-votos

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