Reliable outlets for ethical purchasing include community arts centers, reputable arts fairs and festivals, artists’ studios/cooperative spaces, commercial galleries, and certain marketplaces attached to Indigenous-managed lands and sites.
Not only can Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art pieces be highly priced & valued, more importantly, these works are tangible repositories of culture, clan knowledge and traditions, imbued with spirituality of the artist’s Country. Thus for both purchaser and artist, it is vitally important that communication, transparency and fairness guide a transaction, which from the standpoint of the artist, establishes a lasting connection between the two parties.
When considering purchasing a work of art, or authenticated objects intended as souvenirs, remember that ethical purchasing is an intentional act of respect for the world’s oldest continuing culture. It assures you of providing the most direct support possible to the artists and their community and contributes to the long-term sustainability of this uniquely Australian heritage and treasure.
The Indigenous Art Code, established in 2009 between hundreds of art dealers and artists, is the ‘gold standard’ for ethical purchasing. It is a set of rules and guidelines that art dealers commit to follow to ensure fair, honest and respectful treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, thus protecting them from exploitation. Work with a member to evaluate and purchase art / artefacts, and you’ll know you’ve bought ethically.
Remember: “Fake Art Harms Culture”. In your travels, become aware of and avoid outlets vending commercially produced goods that are made with non-traditional materials and feature inauthentic or culturally inappropriate designs. Where in doubt, ask questions about the provenance and documentation of items, the connection to the artist, and how the artist gets paid.