The Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation (DAAFF) Board and Staff
The DAAFF Board
Executive Director, First Nations Arts & Culture, Australia Council for the Arts
Franchesca Cubillo is a Larrakia, Bardi, Wardaman and Yanuwa woman from the ‘Top End’ of the Northern Territory. She is the Executive Director, First Nations Arts & Culture, Australia Council for the Arts. From 2009 to 2021 she was the Senior Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art at the National Gallery of Australia, where she leds the curatorial team in developing eleven purpose-built Indigenous Australian art galleries, the largest display of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art in the world. She has over twenty-five years’ experience working in state and national cultural institutions.Franchesca worked on the major exhibitions Petroglyphs (2003) and Colliding worlds: first contact in the western desert, 1932–1984 (2006) and was co-editor of the book for the National Gallery of Australia’s second National Indigenous Art Triennial, unDisclosed.In 2006, she undertook a Churchill Fellowship to investigate international responses to the repatriation of the ancestral remains of indigenous nations worldwide. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Aboriginal Affairs and Honours in Anthropology from the University of Adelaide and is currently undertaking a PhD at the Australian National University.Franchesca was senior curator of Aboriginal Art and Material Culture at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (2006–09), where she developed the collection, curated several Indigenous art exhibitions, including the delivery of the prestigious Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Islander Art Award. Previously, she held positions at Tandanya, National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, and the National Museum of Australia. Franchesca was curator of Aboriginal Anthropology at the South Australia Museum for eight years, where she assisted in the redevelopment of the Australian Aboriginal Cultures Gallery in 2000.She has worked with many Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory as well as in communities in the western and eastern Kimberley region, the lower Murray River region of South Australia and parts of north Queensland. Franchesca has presented lectures and represented Australian Indigenous culture at national and international forums, particularly in the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Japan.
Larrakia Nation Representative
DAAFF Deputy Chair
Chief Executive Officer of Desart
Philip Watkins was born and raised in Alice Springs, Northern Territory, and is part of large extended Arrernte and Larrakia families.
In August 2011, Philip was appointed the Executive Officer of Desart. Desart is a peak body that advocates for the independence of remote Aboriginal Art Centres in Central Australia, fostering some forty-four Art Centres.
Prior to his appointment at Desart, Philip was employed as the Artistic and Cultural Director of the National Aboriginal Cultural Institute – Tandanya (2006-2011). This followed on from a range of positions held at the Central Land Council over a twelve year period.
Currently, Philip is a Fellow of the Governor’s Leadership Foundation (South Australia) and is a Board Member of the Indigenous Art Code of Conduct Ltd.
Director of Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation
Cecilia Alfonso was born in Chile and emigrated to Sydney, Australia with her family in the early 1970s. She has also lived in the United States of America, Africa and Hong Kong in pursuit of her passion for art. Cecilia achieved First Class Honours in History from the University of New South Wales, and a Masters of Art Administration from the College of Fine Arts, UNSW. While living in the United States of America she completed an internship with National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian Institute.
Cecilia has been working at Warlukurlangu Artists in Yuendumu since December 2001. Warlukurlangu Artists is Indigenous owned and operated and represents more than 500 artists from the communities of Yuendumu and Nyirripi. It is one of the largest and most successful Art Centres in Australia.
DAAFF Board Member
Indigenous Art Centre Alliance (IACA) Manager
Pamela Bigelow, is the founding manager of the Indigenous Art Centre Alliance – IACA. She has successfully developed a Peak Body for Queensland Art Centres that supports culturally strong best practice Indigenous art enterprises. Pam has worked with Indigenous communities for over 30 years in a wide variety of roles, including Indigenous Lead Centre, Wet Tropics Natural and Cultural Heritage Interpretation, and the Conservation Commission of the NT. Pam is a director on the
Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation and the Indigenous Art Code Boards and the newly formed Indigenous Art digital labeling reference group.
DAAFF Board Member
Chief Executive Officer of ANKA
Christina Davidson is the Chief Executive Officer of the Arnhem, Northern and Kimberley Artists (ANKA, formally ANKAAA) Aboriginal Corporation – the peak advocacy and support agency for over 5,000 Indigenous artists and 49 Aboriginal owned art centres and artist groups in the regions of: Arnhem Land, the Kimberley, Tiwi Islands and Katherine/ Darwin. Christina works for the all Indigenous board elected from across the ANKA regions which cover over 1 million square kilometres of country in Northern Australia. Before joining ANKA in late 2007, Christina had appointments lecturing in contemporary art and art theory at the universities of Sydney and Melbourne.
DAAFF Board Member
Mangkaja Arts Administrative Assistant and Special Projects Co-ordinator
Lynley Nargoodah is a Nyikina/ Walmajarri woman from Fitzroy Crossing. As a mother of 5 kids, sharing of stories is very important to her, as it defines the past and shapes the future for herself and her family. Lynley has been employed by Mangkaja Arts for 6 years as the Gallery/ Administrative Assistant and now she works as Special Projects Co-ordinator. In her role she assists staff, artists and families with day to day business. She organises the money story for everyone and co-ordinates special projects that celebrate the Mangkaja collection and connect them to exhibition opportunities in institutions.
Lynley was part of the Desert River Sea: Kimberly Art Then & Now Visual Arts Leadership Program, curating a selection of works from the Mangkaja collection with Carly Lane Art Gallery of WA. She is an Arts Worker Extension Program (AWEP) graduate, has recently undertaken a qualification in conservation through Melbourne University’s Ian Potter Centre, and is also a graduate of the Wesfarmers Program with NMA. Lynley is also a current board member for ANKA.
DAAFF Board Member
Girringun Aboriginal Art Centre Manager
Joann Russo is a Kuku Yalanji /Mitakoodi woman from Ingham North Queensland. She is the first Aboriginal woman to be appointed as the Manager for the Girringun Aboriginal Art Centre, located in Cardwell. In her role she empowers the Traditional Owner groups of the region to prosper in their creative endeavours, encourage transfer of knowledge while educating others about the value that comes from Indigenous communities. She works with Elders and members from the Djiru, Jirrbal, Warrgamay, Girramay, Nywaigi, Gulnay, Gugu Badhan, Bandjin & Warungnu Tribal groups.
She has been employed at the Girringun Aboriginal Art centre for 4 years, starting as an Arts worker then moving on to managing the ethically licenced products and various other projects for the Girringun Aboriginal Corporation including the first Girringun Youth Camp, an annual event held on country to ensure the future leaders maintain Cultural Knowledge.
Joann is an alumni of the NGA Arts Leadership program, having participated in 2018. The program helped her to understand her leadership role within the community. She values the importance Indigenous voices and culture has played in the Arts sector and continues to advocate for that voice to be heard.
DAAFF Board Member
Chief Executive Officer of the Aboriginal Art Centre Hub of Western Australia
Chad Creighton is a Bardi and Nyul Nyul man from the Kimberley region of WA. Born in Broome he lived in the township and surrounding communities for most of his life.
Chad is currently the Chief Executive Officer of the Aboriginal Art Centre Hub of Western Australia based in Perth. He studied Fine Art at the University of Western Australia and Heritage Studies at Curtin University. Chad has a diversity of knowledge and experience working in the arts, heritage and native title.
His work experience includes, curatorial experience within a state gallery, development of major art projects, coordinating heritage and environmental activities, community based consultation for development projects and managing native title services in the West Kimberley.
He is currently a member of the City of Perth Cultural Advisory Committee, WA Museum Aboriginal Advisory Committee and Revealed Advisory Committee.
The DAAFF Staff
Executive Director & Public Officer
Claire has over 15 years of experience and expertise in the Indigenous art and fashion industry, and the Art Centre model. After managing Maningrida Arts & Culture (2005-2010) and Bábbarra Women’s Centre (2010-2012) in Arnhem Land, NT she took on the first Executive Director role of the newly founded Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation in 2013.
Claire has been responsible for the growth and development of the Foundation and its activities including the growth and development of the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair, and DAAFF’s Indigenous Fashion Projects which encompasses Country to Couture, National Indigenous Fashion Awards, and business capacity building programs for Art Centres and Indigenous designers.
Mandy is DAAFF’s General Manager and works from the Darwin office. Initially contracted as Event Manager in 2016, she quickly filled the position of the part time Arts Administer role. Mandy accepted the position of the Foundations’ first General Manager in July 2019. Prior to DAAFF, Mandy lived in the Daly River region, south of Darwin, for four years and over this time worked within her family business and managed Merrepen Arts Centre in the Nauiyu Nambiyu community. She has a Diploma in Leadership and Management and is also a Registered Nurse.
Shilo McNamee is a musician, visual artist and emerging curator based in Darwin, Northern Territory, and is of Greek, Eastern Arrernte, Anglo Irish descent. Shilo earned a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from Charles Darwin University in 2008 and has since been an active participant in the Darwin arts community. McNamee worked as Manager for the Darwin Visual Arts Association 2015 – 2018. In 2017 she was selected to attend the Venice Biennale as a part of the Australia Council’s Indigenous Curator program. As a visual artist, McNamee’s work is based in graphic art, and illustration. Shilo also regularly instructs classes on drawing, and painting and enjoys bringing this practical knowledge to her role with DAAFF.
A local Darwin woman, with mob originally from Nyikina (Kimberley region) and Wakaya (Barkley region), Katena Valastro’s experience in the creative industries is joined by a love of all things fashion, art, dance, music, painting, and theatre.
Katena has a double degree in Commerce and Arts majoring in Arts Management and minoring in Dance and Performance. Her passion and inspiration always came from Indigenous culture, with its unique and valuable history. As Australia and the world begin to embrace Aboriginal culture, Katena hopes to see First Nations people take full ownership and control of their evolving talents and success.
“Through art, we share so many stories and are inspired by a culture over 40,000 years old. It is through this that we communicate and express ourselves, a vulnerability that deserves to be truly cherished and understood. With thousands of languages around the world, no matter what language you speak, fashion and art can resonate with so many of us. First Nations fashion and textile design is on a wonderful journey and I am excited to watch it grow.”
Marketing & Communications Manager
Ellie has a keen interest in design and the opportunity for creative industries to have positive social and environmental impact.
Ellie’s experience lies in the fashion and textile industry, having previously worked as a Senior Project Manager and Head of Media and Communications at the NFP organisation Australian Fashion Council (AFC), where she spent 5 years across their digital portfolio and a number of industry projects.
Ellie has a Masters in Fashion Entrepreneurship from RMIT University, and a BA in Fashion and Textile Design from Curtin University, providing a rich knowledge base of the apparel industry from both design and business perspectives.
In 2019 she had the privilege of being able to spend a short visit volunteering with the inspiring artists and team at Marnin Studio, Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre in Fitzroy Crossing, followed by a trip to Darwin to DAAF. She identifies this experience as a personal game changer.
Ellie joined the DAAFF team to support their communications activities and the broader work of the Foundation and the Art Centre membership across both art and fashion, passionate about supporting opportunities for First Nations people in art and design.
Visual & Digital Communications
Dylan has over 20 years of experience in visual communications, and a background in teaching and environmental campaigning. Dylan is the founder and owner of Moksha Design & Communications and supports a client base of not-for-profits and ethical businesses, providing stunning digital and print services, graphic design, web design and photography. He has been working with DAAFF since 2016 and is deeply committed to addressing social justice, environmental issues, and the role DAAFF plays in these areas. He is particularly passionate about treaty and constitutional recognition of Australia’s First Peoples.
Indigenous Fashion Projects
Dave is an experienced senior executive from the textile and fashion industry. For the last four years as CEO of the Australian Fashion Council he has worked with companies and individuals across all sectors of the industry for the purpose of their personal and organisational growth. Earlier in his 25 year career in the industry Dave worked with global outdoor apparel leader WL Gore (Gore-Tex) in new ventures and R&D. He also co-founded London based fashion brand Frankly, led business development for smart materials technology company Imagine Intelligent Materials, and was CEO of Australian Defence Apparel. Dave now leads DAAFF’s newly established Indigenous Fashion Projects.
Tammy has worked in fundraising within the not-for-profit sector in Australia for 18 years. Having held senior management roles across all areas of fundraising, marketing and communications working with large organisations such as Red Cross and working with smaller organisations to build fundraising programs from scratch. Tammy first started working with DAAFF in 2015 and continues to work to support DAAFF Partner Relations.
Recent DAAF News
Today we’re tackling ceramics, fine jewellery and sculpture, looking at just some of the incredible Art Centres and artists who are not only masters in these fields, but innovatively push them to new creative heights…
August is an amazing time to be in the Top End, with a typical year hosting a number of significant Indigenous events running alongside the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair! While like DAAF, a number of these have shifted online in the face of COVID-19, there is still plenty to celebrate – whether it be digitally or in person…
Indigenous textiles hold deep meaning for artists and communities, standing as a medium that pushes the boundaries of contemporary First Nations culture. Today, there are more than 20 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Centres and women’s centres that produce textiles and fashion as a core part of their businesses, to national and international acclaim… Let’s catwalk!