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Creatives & Models

Meet the team

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Simone Arnol

“Keeping it grass roots while respecting the Elders, the keepers of knowledge.” Descending from the Gunggandji Peoples through her father and her mother of Sicilian heritage, she uses this strong connection to family and country as a foundation for all of her works. Inspired by the many Elders, children and all the Traditional Owners that has been a part of her life through her working career in Indigenous Law and Native Title, she continues to experiment and progress through different mediums with each piece keeping within cultural and mainstream sustainability. Simone’s fabrics & textiles show a continued practice of traditional dyeing methods to produce the colours in her fabric using recycled materials. This method of traditional dyeing is a process which educates and may be passed onto the next generation.

The indigenous models that wear Simone’s designs are taught these processes, so when you wear Simone’s designs you are getting a cultural education. More recent years have seen her work within Fashion Curation, Events and Design. She has been showcasing at Cairns Indigenous Art Fair’s Fashion Performance for the last 5 years and co-curated this premier event for the last 3 years. Simone was the first Indigenous Designer at The Australian Eco Fashion Week in Perth, 2017. As seen in all of her past collections, Simone combines class, unique & modern designs with powerful narratives to convey true messages of her history and her people.

Bernard Singleton, Lovegreen Photography

Bernard Singleton

“I paint, craft and make artefacts to ground myself. It is known that these techniques, used over hundreds of years, become somewhat embedded in our DNA. So through the process of making a spear or shaping the figure of a spirit, I connect with my ancestors and they help bring my art to life. My work is a way for me to acknowledge and remember the times of my great grandmothers and great grandfathers and those before. My designs are inspired by the laws of nature and the forms found in the creation stories around me. Using these basic forms or designs, I work to represent the bond of art and the continuation of culture.”

Bernard is an Umpila, Djabuguy/Yirrgay man raised in Cape York Peninsula. He continues to maintain strong cultural connections also to his Djabugay and Yirrgay country of the Cairns Region where he is based. His practiced is focused on crafting traditional hunting weapons tools and objects and are heavily based on his father’s 30 year work as an archaeological relics ranger.  

Bernard has over 15 years’ experience in Cultural Tourism travelling internationally presenting, performing, and educating. More recently becoming involved in curatorial work in Art Galleries, Exhibitions and Art Fairs in northern Australia.

All of his work, even though modern or contemporary, have a foundation of traditional crafting, traditional materials or creation stories within.


Hans Ahwang, Wade Lewis photography

Hans Ahwang

Hans originates from St Paul’s Community Wug Village, Mua Island, one of the Torres Strait Islands.

He completed his studies at Naisda Dance College and graduated with a diploma in Professional Dance and Performance in 2014. Hans has combined his love of dance, fashion and culture into a multitude of roles and projects promoting Torres Strait culture and contemporary dance.  He has performed in diverse environments including Indigenous communities, schools, workshops, festivals both locally and overseas.

He has performed with renowned dance companies such as Mirramu Dance Company, Gary Lang N.T Dance Company and Arpaka Dance Company. He was involved in the inauguration as a model as part of the 1st Australian Indigenous Fashion week held in Sydney in 2014 and chosen to represent Australia as one of the Indigenous models who took part in the Fiji Fashion Week 2015.

He has performed both locally and internationally at arts festivals including Womad, the 11th Pacific Arts Festival in the Solomon Islands, the Woodford Folk Festival and toured extensively in 2017/18 to the United States as part of the International Association of Blacks in Dance conference. His film and television credits include ‘Wonderland’, ‘Redfern Now’, ‘Clevermen’, ‘Dance Academy, The Comeback’ and the major motion picture ‘Pacific Rim 2’. In 2016 he won NAIDOC Award ‘Artist of the Year’.


Benita Williams

I am from both Eastern and Western Kuku Yalanji tribes. My last name is from TSI - Stephen Island. On my Grandfathers side our tribe is Teppathiggi.

To me Water is life. We are nothing without it. As a Christian we are baptized in water symbolizing the purification of the soul.

Water is cleansing, and throughout the journey we visited many locations and I felt it so strong, spiritually I felt my soul being set free from everyday stress in my life. And I could hear my ancestors calling me back to land to connect which I will be doing with family this weekend. 


Sara Fagan

My mob are the Djabugay and Yirrganydji on my father’s side, and the Olkola and Kokoberra on my mother’s side.

Water is sacred and can be both healing and dangerous. The different collections all interpreted different aspects of water, in ways that highlight and display various elements and meanings of water, such as linking between moon and sea tides in one collection, or the impact of ghost nets in the aquatic ecosystem and raising awareness on it.

A special highlight from CIAF this year was travelling to different places and working with a new medium and way to display CIAF to the public.

Carleah Flinders, Lovegreen Photography

Carleah Flinders

I am a descendant of Yiithu Warra (Cape Melville)/ Darrba Warra (Starke River).

This year’s fashion theme ‘Water’ was very different but amazing to work with. The special moments for me was being able to wear each and every outfit with pride and hearing the stories behind their collections. 

Ebony Doyle

Ebony Doyle

I have maternal connections to the Mbaiwum/Troti, Alngith & Wik nations of Western Cape York & Paternal connections to the Yiman nations & South East Queensland.

This year’s theme is “water is sacred,” it is vital importance to flora & fauna. Humans, other species & plants, is undeniable. There are many spiritual reasons for its sacredness how if one doesn’t believe in spirituality, water is still of upmost importance to one’s personal health & to those we share the planet with. It’s extremely resourceful & free! It should be recognised for blessing it is & therefore conscious effort go into respecting & preserving the wellness of water. It’s one of those things that connect countries, cultures & species.

My personal highlight of CIAF 2020 was running around in a garbage bag in a public area as well as getting in the water on a winter’s night, I personally didn’t find it to be a cold night however judging by the look of the other models some would disagree. It was a very fun scenario for me. 


Lynette Gee Gee (nee Enoch)

Yirrganydji/Nughi Woman. I have family ties to Kalkadoon (Kalkatungu)/Gangalidda, Kuku Typan, Umpila, Kaanju peoples.

Water is essential for life. It is one of the most important substances that we need in life to survive. But also, being a mother of two, it is also a common symbol in pregnancy and childbirth, we associate water with new life or new beginnings. We begin our lives surrounded by it.

This one has definitely been a personal one for me as this is my first CIAF modelling event, I was approached by my older sister to Model her collection as this too has been a first CIAF experience for her as a designer. So thank you Simone & Bernie and team for allowing me to be apart of the magic this year.

Zane Court

Zane Court

My cultural heritage is Gunggandji (Joinbee).

I am currently studying a Bachelor of Environmental Practices at JCU, Cairns Campus, learning how the biological, physical, social, economic, and political spheres interact and impact our environment. My interpretation of this year’s fashion theme ‘Water is Sacred’ brings home not only culturally the significance of water but us individually and environmentally need water to survive = ‘Water is Life’.

A highlight from this year was assisting the mentoring of the 2 new models Kyle and Kenny from Pormpuraaw and the strong message behind the Pormpuraaw Arts and Cultural Centre’s ghost net collection “Caring and looking after our Oceans”.


Tahanee Buli

I was born in Darwin, Northern Territory and grew up in Cairns, Queensland. I am a proud Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. My family are from Badu, Darnley (Erub) and Mornington Island.

This year’s fashion theme ‘Water’ is a powerful element in this year’s fashion performance. I believe Water is such an important part of life as it gives nutrients to the land, animals, and people.

My highlights of this year were the amazing locations we had visited to shoot the Fashion Showcase ‘Water is Sacred’. It was wonderful to capture the scenery of the locations and display of the beautiful designs being in that environment. I am grateful to take part in the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair Fashion Performance of 2020, which is the first year being on a digital platform. I feel privileged to have worked with such talented and beautiful people in which I call my CIAF Family and have experienced these deadly memories. 

Thalia Brown, Lovegreen Photography

Thalia Brown

I’m a descendent from the Ghungalou, Wakka Wakka, Bundjalung, Gabi Gabi and Gunggandji tribes.

This year’s theme “Water is sacred” definitely sends a very strong message without water we couldn’t survive. With all what is going on in the world we forget about the importance of keeping our reefs protected and all the water ways as well.

Meeting the whole camera crew, models, curators and just seeing the hard work everyone had put in really come together we really made magic happen every moment was special. 


Zoe Arnol

My cultural heritage and family connections is from the Gunggandji Nation (Yarrabah).

This year’s CIAF Fashion Show theme Water is Sacred has reminded me as a young Aboriginal woman of just how important water is to our history, culture and traditions. Through CIAF I hope we can remind ourselves and showcase to the world just how diverse and significant our relationship is to water.

As a first-time model in the CIAF Fashion Show I was so excited to be involved in a new digital way of modelling our amazing designers and their beautiful creations. One of my most special moments was being able to model on my country.


Kenny Holroyd

My tribal family is Kagu (Mum) and Minh Thonethumpon (Dad). My dad’s families are the traditional owners of Pormpuraaw. My mums tribal land is Ngakayengka which is on the mouth of the Holyroyd river. My totem is the hammerhead shark and emu. My Grandfather was the first chairman of the Cape York Land Council and he comes from the saltwater country. My Grandfather ‘Robert Wallace Isaiah Holroyd’ has a building on Sheridan Street that is named in honour of his tribal name ‘Banninh Yeium’.

I think the ‘Water’ theme was about beauty, mystery and making you feel strong.

My special moments were meeting other people and doing something that I have never done before. I enjoyed the costumes and how they made me feel. I had lots of fun.

Mary Sheppard, Lovegreen Photography

Mary Sheppard

My grandma grew up on the mission in Mona Mona. I grew up in Kuranda. My tribe is Muluridji .

The first thing that came to mind when I heard the theme "water' was “connection”. That is connection to the land and every aspect of it especially water. To look after the land and learn about the land is important and I kept this message in mind through all of the filming to bring that message across. 

I haven’t modelled for CIAF for a few years so I got to reunite with some models who had previously done the CIAF Fashion Show. I also met a lot of amazing people. The overall filming experience was incredible and not something I have done before. 

Kyle Shortjoe, Lovegreen Photography

Kyle Shortjoe

My cultural heritage and family connections is Wikiiyanh. 

Water is important to all parts of life! We can’t live without it, our food sources die without it or if we have too much of it. 

My highlights of this years CIAF was making new friends and trying something I never ever thought I would do (modelling) and wearing my families collection from Pormpuraaw.

Nauma Wren, Lovegreen Photography

Nauma Wren

I was born on Thursday island.

I was lucky enough to be a mentor, model and the bus driver for the week of videoing and photographing the fashion collection. I feel so proud and fortunate to be able to help the curators with this year’s show. 

A personal highlight for CIAF 2020 would have to be travelling to green Island, performing with Hans - He really made me feel a part of my culture and how it really is - dancing on the beach. I have been modelling for CIAF since 2017 so, just being with the team again and putting on an amazing show was a huge highlight. 


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