It should be not surprise that there has been a push among art collectors to find and buy Aboriginal art in a way that is both fair and ethical. Although this comes from decades of dodgy dealings, being in this position now allows us to really consider the artwork from a variety of angles, all of which help to support artists and ensure the piece you’re getting is authentic and truly representative of this beautiful culture. Many people might not know where t start, so in this article we take a look at a few things that can help inform your purchase when looking for the perfect piece of aboriginal art.
Choose the right style for you
As there are a lot of Aboriginal artists out there, so are there a lot of styles to choose from. This can make the buying decision much more difficult than many people expected, particularly as they find new styles as they keep researching. Even if you’re set on a particular style, each style may appeal to an individual in a different way, so it’s worth being comprehensive in your research. For example, people may not have considered fibre art, which can include important everyday objects like utensils, decorative pieces, clothing, homewares, ceremonial artefacts and hunting resources. These products are made from native or easily accessed materials such as bark, hair and grass, but if you’re wanting something with a bit more presence, you might instead prefer a sculpture. Sculptures are usually made from wood, but are also available in metals such as bronze and aluminium and can include things like music instruments and boomerangs. If you’re more interested in canvas art, artists use a wide range of acrylic colours to create pieces ranging from dot paintings to intricate paintings depicting history. Watercolours are also not uncommon, with this style adopted from European artists and used to depict the beautiful landscapes of Australia.
Find a reputable art gallery and buy ethically
If you’re not careful when looking for an art gallery, there’s a very high chance that you can end up with an artwork that was actually created in places like India, Indonesia and China. To make finding a reputable gallery easier, consider searching for members on the Indigenous Art Code’s website or looking for gallery trade members on the Aboriginal Art Association of Australia’s website. Websites like Australian Art Gallery and Aboriginal Art Directory can also provide some great information about artists and galleries. Buying ethically in these instances can also mean asking the galleries and suppliers themselves questions about the artists. Questions might involve their membership with reputable art gallery associations, whether they follow the Indigenous Art Code and where the money from the sale actually goes (such as what amount of money goes to the artist versus the gallery). It’s also important to know how the gallery actually obtained the piece of art, in addition to developing a better understanding of the conditions in which the art was produced.
Ensuring your art is authentic
Taking the time to find if a piece is legitimate is about more than your own peace of mind – a legitimate piece from a reputable gallery will ensure that the artist is well compensated for their work. This in turn limits exploitation and allows aboriginal communities to prosper.