Appreciating Aboriginal Art: Tips for First-Time Buyers
Purchasing Aboriginal art is a fantastic way to support indigenous groups in Australia. However, it is important to remember to purchase ethically to ensure the Aboriginal people receive the appreciation they deserve.
Plenty of counterfeit Aboriginal art with symbols are in the market, so it is wise to buy cautiously. As a beginner, it can be confusing to determine genuine creations from fake ones, so we put together this helpful guide for you:
The quickest way to determine the authenticity of Aboriginal fine art prints in Australia is to look for provenance. Every piece produced comes with a form of certification or statement to prove that the work is sourced ethically:
- Name of the Artist–Aboriginal artwork should have the original artist’s name in its certification.
- Language Group–Another proof of legitimacy in the certification is the language group. Australia has over 250 Aboriginal languages, so it is best to familiarise yourself with them.
- Community–Besides the language group, the certificate should also state the community or group it came from.
- Story – Every piece of Aboriginal art has a story to tell. The certificate should state what the tale behind the art is.
The popularity of Aboriginal art has helped the indigenous groups of Australia find additional living. Unfortunately, the Aboriginal art market is crawling with dishonest businesses that do not compensate the artists correctly.
To ensure you support the Aboriginal community, ask the seller the percentage of sales of the artwork that goes to the artist. An honest dealer will be able to tell you the answer directly. But if they hesitate or can’t get a straight response, we recommend walking away.
When it was Made
Not all artworks are created in the same period. In some instances, you might find Aboriginal works that are historical artefacts. Other sellers may exclusively offer contemporary pieces.
Always ask the dealer if the Aboriginal art is antique or modern, regardless of when it was made. Additionally, we recommend asking if there are multiple pieces of it or if it is a part of a collection.
The most recommended way to purchase Aboriginal art ethically is to buy it directly from the artist. But if you cannot visit one personally, sourcing from a reputable dealer is also a good solution.
Remember, not all Aboriginal art dealers are ethical. Before buying any piece, research which stores are officially partnered with Aboriginal communities. Urban Road is a great example, having partnered with the Warlukurlangu Artist Community of Yuendumu &Nyirripi of Northern Territory, Australia.