Aboriginal-style art is sometimes purported to be Australian Aboriginal art even though it is NEITHER created in Australia NOR painted by Aboriginal artists. Such art is definitely NOT Australian Aboriginal art.
Just before Christmas, I was contacted by Daniel Burdon, a well-known and reputable journalist from the Centralian Advocate newspaper based in Alice Springs in the Red Centre of the Northern Territory in Australia. Daniel was hot on the trail of a story about fake Aboriginal art.
After speaking with the owner of an Alice Springs art gallery, he then phoned me several times to discuss some of the details of email offers Australia Gift Shop
receives almost weekly from suppliers of dodgy Aboriginal-style art made in makeshift factories across South-East Asia.
After publication of his news article on Christmas day, he gave me permission to put it up on our website. The article is titled “Ridgy-Dodge”.
“RIDGY- DODGE” by Daniel Burdon.
Fake Aboriginal art alert
THE owner of a leading Alice Springs-based art gallery has urged people to beware fake indigenous artworks -- many of which imitate Central Desert designs, but are created in Asia.
The alert from Gallery Gondwana's Roslyn Premont follows an investigation by the Centralian Advocate into a push by Asian factories making fake art to sell to Aussie art retailers.
Ms Premont said yesterday: ``It is simply robbing people of their livelihood -- art is really the only main way some indigenous people manage to earn an income.
``This practice is not respectful of the artists, the consumers or gallery owners who make an honest living.''
Ms Premont said she had seen a village in Indonesia with factories making fake Aboriginal art.
But, she had thought Australian Customs had cracked down on the trade and it was now much smaller, if it existed at all.
One online art retailer told the Centralian Advocate the fake Aboriginal art trade was thriving and ``a crying shame''.
Dodgy Aboriginal art scandal
Australia Gift Shop
owner Adrian King ( www.australiagift.net
) said he regularly received offers of fake products from Indonesia, Vietnam and The Philippines. The exporters offer bulk supplies of everything from souvenir didgeridoos to boomerang key rings.
He said he got emails almost weekly from suppliers of dodgy Aboriginal-style art made in makeshift factories across South-East Asia.
Mr King said: ``There is a lot more coming through now.''
``There's a lot of these little weird websites that replicate fairly accurately authentic Aboriginal art.
``It's a serious threat and we don't know how much it has infiltrated the Australian market, but it is definitely a threat.''
He said one email said it had already sold products to Australian businesses.
Mr King said he had emails from several Asian operators who claimed to be wholesaling genuine works, but had no contact details for them other than emails -- some of which were under a free web-based email network.
One such email stated: ``We are based in Indonesia, hand-painting Papua (New Guinea) and Aboriginal-style paintings better than the ''locals'' can produce.
We only have a small team, maybe maximum 300 paintings a month, we are not up to factory scale and we do not copy anyone's paintings.''
The email said the supplier could sell 100cm by 75cm unframed acrylic-on-canvas artworks for $10 to retailers.
The list showed a fake 135cm didgeridoo could be bought for just $9.82 Australian -- a price that no authentic Australian Indigenous art supplier could compete with.
It also listed a round eight inch plate with familiar Central Desert designs wholesaling for $1.27 in Australia.
Ms Premont said she had similar plates, but they were authentically hand-painted by artists from Keringke Arts at Santa Teresa in Central Australia, which would sell at retail price for about $132.
She said: ``There's no way anyone who actually supplies real Aboriginal art can compete with such prices.''
The Trade Practices Act 1974 prohibits misleading or deceptive conduct by Australian corporations.
But another part of the Act deals with the ``country of origin'' of products, such as a piece of Indonesian wood, carved into a boomerang, painted in Australia and sold as Aboriginal art.
Ms Premont said retailers and art centres needed to take responsibility and refuse to buy such products.
Most consumers would pay more money if they knew -- and had evidence -- that such work was original and authentic.
``To tackle this, it's going to take a duty of care from everybody in the industry as well as consumers.
``Maybe it is an indicator that the indigenous art sector has come of age when people start making fakes.''
© Copyright. All rights reserved. Centralian Advocate. Edition 1 -FRI 25 DEC 2009, Page 001: news article “RIDGY- DODGE” by Daniel Burdon.
Many of our customers use our online shopping cart to order while others prefer to place their order and pay over the phone with their MasterCard or Visa credit card or debit card.They usually phone us while they are browsing our online shop. This makes it easy for us to discuss products that they are viewing in our online shop displays. For customers who prefer not to use their credit card, debit card or online PayPal account, we provide the option of paying by Direct Deposit or Internet Banking Transfer (usually within Australia only).
- Embark on an online shopping adventure at Australia Gift Shop at www.australiagift.net/australia [ shop in AU$ ] to view bright and colourful hand-painted Australian Aboriginal artifacts and to purchase from an extensive range of Australian Aboriginal art products, Australiana gifts and iconic Aussie souvenirs. [ To purchase in US$, go to www.australiagift.net ]
- Contact Australia Gift Shop (07) 41593043 (within Australia)
- Contact Australia Gift Shop +61 7 41593043 (outside Australia)