Here at Reframe Waste, we want to acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to the land, sea and community. We pay our respects to them and their cultures; and to their Elders past, present and future.

Earlier in the blog series, we discussed about how we would like to feature Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art as a gift option for Christmas. We wanted to do this with mindfulness and respect, as we are not experts in this space, and are grateful to people that we have talked to this December about what was the best way to approach this post.

For Day 22, we have aimed to highlight information for Australians to use to ethically source Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pieces and provided connections to existing artist collectives across Australia and a few locations in Brisbane where you can meet the artisans behind the items. 

Look for the Indigenous Art Code

The Indigenous Art Code is a system to preserve and promote ethical trading in Indigenous art. Fake art harms culture and this code ensures that:

  • Artists are paid financially by dealers
  • Artists can find out what the retail value of their craft is, find out about resale royalties and if the sale will be registered with art dealers.
  • Art dealers are selling their art in a fair, honest and respectful way.

The Indigenous Art Code website provides profile space and an interactive map for artists, dealers and supporters. Below is a snippet of the mapping tool on the website of the Brisbane region, be sure to check this site out for more information at:

From the Code’s website, here are five key things to look out for to ethically purchase Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander art:

  1. Is the artist and community collective being credited for the work? Are there any artwork catalogue numbers on the item?
  2. Does the documentation accompanying the piece from the gallery or art centre match the guidelines by the Indigenous Art Code?
  3. Is there copyright and indigenous cultural intellectual property acknowledged?
  4. Can you easily and comfortably ask the dealer or gallery for more details about the provenance and authenticity of the piece? Are they providing more information about their relationship with the artist and how they connect with the art centre or dealer?
  5. Is the pricing transparent? Can you find out what the fixed percentage of the cost of the item goes to the artist?  

For more information, see the Code’s full page guide here:

Artist Collectives in Australia

There are a number of artist collectives in Australia that feature Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island artists. Although not an exhaustive list, below are a few amazing places that were recommended to us and caught our attention:

1. Gab Titui Cultural Centre

The Gab Titui Cultural Centre is a contemporary art gallery and keeping place for cultural artefacts, located on Thursday Island – land of the Kaurareg nation, the traditional custodians of the Kaiwalagal region (Inner Islands) of the Torres Strait. The Gab Titui Cultural Centre supports more than 100 artists across the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area of Australia. Check out their website to find more about upcoming exhibitions, latest artwork profiles and art development programs.

2. Warlukurlangu Art Centre, Yuendumu

Established in 1985 Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation is a not-for-profit organisation that is 100% owned by its artists from the remote desert communities of Yuendumu and Nyirripi in Central Australia. Warlukurlangu means ‘belonging to fire’ in the local language, Warlpiri, and is named after a fire dreaming site west of Yuendumu. Warlukurlangu Artists is one of the longest running Aboriginal-owned art centres in Central Australia and there are currently over 600 artists participating. The primary activity of the art centre is the production of acrylic paintings on canvas. These prints and other craft products are available for sale through their website.

Example of beautiful products available for sale from Warlukurlangu Art Centre website

3. APY Art Centre Collective

The Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands (APY Lands) are located in remote Central Australia in the far northern tip of South Australia. The APY Art Centre Collective is a group of 10 Indigenous owned and governed enterprises including seven art centres that facilitate and market the work of over 500 Anangu Artists. Be sure to take a look at each of these enterprises for different mediums of art, sharing and expressing their Tjukurpa (Dreaming Stories).

4. Japingka Aboriginal Art

Japingka Aboriginal Art features artwork from a wide-range of artists throughout Australia with an extensive online platform as well as exhibitions at the Japingka Aboriginal Art Gallery in Fremantle, WA.  

The land, artworks by sister painters Tarisse King & Sarrita King displayed in Gallery 2 of the Japingka Aboriginal Art Gallery in Fremantle, WA

Gift ideas

With Christmas only a few days away, you may be looking for that last minute gift for that special someone. There are a number of online and Brisbane-based artists, designers and companies selling beautiful gift ideas that feature work of phenomenal Indigenous artists.

1. Fashion Collections by Life Apparel Co

Life Apparel Co collaborate with nationally renowned and rising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists from all over the country to translate their traditional stories into contemporary fashion collections.  Each artist explains the significance behind each of their designs that have been adapted into different clothing and home decor items. From socks and scarves to keep cups, Life Apparel Co sells a wide range of products and is a proud advocate and member of the Indigenous Art Code.

2. Home decor by Chaboo

Chaboo is a Brisbane based business that is 100% Indigenous Australian owned and operated by Roy Fisher & Casey Coolwell. They specialise in unique hand painted home decor, offering graphic design, mural art and commissioned art pieces. Find out more about their story from their website and Facebook page.

3. Jewellery by Sonia Pallet

Sonia Pallet is an Aboriginal Jewellery Artist that works with semi precious stones and utilises Aboriginal symbols in her pieces. You can find her work at Open House Collective, West End and her Etsy shop. Be sure to check out her Facebook page for updates on her latest designs.

@soniapallett Jewellery with her Sterling silver jewelery and semiprecious stones will be holding a stall at our…

Posted by Blak Markets on Sunday, December 8, 2019

4. Cosmetics by Paperbarklove

Paperbarklove creates handmade beauty, cosmetic and personal care products. Be sure to check them out on Facebook for updates about their market locations and the posts about their process behind creating their incredible range!

5. Home decor and earrings by Culture Weave

Culture Weave was created by local weavers Rosie Kwaima and Nadine Foley, producing handcrafted items using traditional Aboriginal weaving techniques. You can follow them on Facebook and purchase items through their Etsy page. They also provide workshops to the community and have an event they are facilitating for Brisbane City Council called Handmade Culture – weaving circles on Sunday 19th January 2020 from 11:30am to 12:30pm at Brisbane Square Library, 266 George Street, Brisbane City.

Events to look out for next year

There are a number of fantastic events celebrating Indigenous art held throughout the year here in Brisbane. Below are some events that you might want to pencil in your calendar for next year.

Also, the Meeanjin Markets has an Instagram account where you can look up Indigenous businesses that had market stalls in 2019, and source some last minute gifts!

Share with us!

Today we highlighted the importance of the Indigenous Art Code to ethically source Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artwork and described some artist collectives located across Australia. This blog topic was one which we are both new to and we would love to hear from you if you know any further information or know of any artists you personally recommend. 🙂

Today’s feature image was from the Meeanjin Markets, an event dedicated to nurturing and growing the support for Indigenous artisans and businesses in South East Queensland.

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