Sunday, 3 August 2008

Govt response not far away

It wont be long beofre we have the Governments response to the Indigenous Art Inquiry. Much has been said about the inquiry and some of the issues it hopes to address and I plan to speak more about it before and after the findings are realeased so stay tuned.

Govt finalising response to Indigenous art inquiry: Garrett

Posted Tue Jul 29, 2008 6:04pm AEST

Federal Arts Minister Peter Garrett says the Government is finalising its response to a Senate inquiry report on the Indigenous art industry released more than a year ago.

The inquiry recommended a national code of conduct for the industry and a $25 million fund for community art centres.

The National Association for the Visual Arts has renewed its calls for the Government to implement the report's recommendations, amid new allegations of unscrupulous art dealing in central Australia.

A spokesman for Mr Garrett says the Government is providing additional support to Aboriginal art centres, including $250,000 for the Ikuntji community at Haast's Bluff north-west of Alice Springs.

He said there was also $1.5 million in the recent Budget to establish a resale royalty scheme for Aboriginal artists.

The scheme, due to be in place early next year, would provide artists whose works are sold on the secondary art market with an ongoing income.

The spokesman says the Government is also waiting to consider a national code of conduct being developed for the industry.

What's right isn't always black or white

At what point does "Aboriginal Art" become "Aboriginal Art"?

Is it the style of art or the artist that determines this?

Is Aboriginal style Art by a white man Aboriginal Art?

Is western style art like landscape, portrait, abstract or expressionism by an Aboriginal person also Aboriginal Art?

Interesting questions that would no doubt divide the opinions of artists and art lovers everywhere.

The issue has taken an interesting twist with the investigation by the ACCC into the selling of Aboriginal Art by non-indigenous artists.

This is an issue I have often pondered and after much consideration i have arrived at a simple straight forward view.

If an artwork is painted in the traditional styles associated with Australian Aboriginal Art then it is Aboriginal Art regardless of the artist being indigenous or not.

If this art was to be displayed or sold it is imperative that it be clearly stated that the artwork was completed by a non-indigenous artist. I also believe that it would be prudent to avoid using the term "Authentic" Aboriginal Art as this serves little purpose but to confuse the issue as the term is commonly used to distinguish artworks by indigenous artists against cheap "souvenir" gifts that are often "mass produced" and sold in tourist outlets.

The article below describes a very interesting situation and without further information it is hard to pass judgement. It will be interesting to see how the ACCC proceed and if they have similar beliefs on what constitutes Aboriginal Art?

Row over Aboriginal art

Thomas Chamberlin

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

NON-Indigenous Cairns artist Stephen McLean (Duk Duk) says his career is in tatters after the Australian consumer watchdog's investigation into his dealer selling his work as "authentic Aboriginal art".

As industry and dealers yesterday expressed their anger over claims made by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Mr McLean said he had never pretended to be indigenous, despite going by a tribal name.

Doongal Aboriginal Art and Artefacts, which has galleries in Cairns and Kuranda, is expected to face the ACCC in the Federal Court in Brisbane next month for allegedly selling bogus Aboriginal art made by three non-indigenous artists.

The local artists are Mr McLean, his brother Paul Whiteman "Kulangu Balanda" and Diane Sharp.

The ACCC says Doongal’s owners, Farzad and Homa Nooravi, misrepresented to the public that the work was created by artists of Aboriginal descent through their website, signs and certificates of authenticity saying "original Aboriginal art".

Mr McLean yesterday said he started selling his art by his real name in 1990, but was later asked by Shirley Collins, the indigenous owner of Raintrees Aboriginal art gallery in Darwin, to use the tribal name "Duk Duk".

He later sought traditional testimonies from Aboriginal people after seeking permission to paint in his own Aboriginal style.

Mr McLean said he had not made a cent since Mr Nooravi took his and the other artist’s paintings off the shelves three months ago.

"I’ve always maintained how white I am when selling to galleries or privately," he said.

"I get treated the same as the local indigenous people. I’ve seen paintings of mine that I’ve sold to him (Mr Nooravi) for $1000 that have sold for between $5000 and $10,000," he said.

Yesterday, Kuranda’s Aboriginal Galleries of Australia owner Jim Bonnell said he backed the ACCC investigation on authenticity.

Not-for-profit contemporary Cairns arts organisation KickArts said it found the ACCC allegations "alarming".

"These are allegations that still need to be proven," director Rae O’Connell said.

Article courtesy the cairns post

Melbourne Art Fair is here!


Melbourne Art Fair

Robert Nelson, Reviewer

The Melbourne Art Fair has a cultural significance beyond its amazing collection of 80 galleries.

  • Genre
  • Decorative/Design, Photography, Sculpture, Multimedia, Painting and Drawing

  • Location
  • Royal Exhibition Building

  • Address
  • Nicholson St, Carlton Gardens, Carlton

  • Date
  • 30 July 2008 to 3 August 2008

  • Online Bookings
  • The Melbourne Art Fair has a cultural significance beyond its amazing collection of 80 galleries represented in stalls throughout the enormous Royal Exhibition Building. The convenience alone would justify the event, as you get to see and compare galleries of a great range that would take you many kilometres and days to cover, especially, of course, the international galleries, which always bring great excitement to the local scene.

    The significance of the event is not just that the public enthusiasm for art is visible, with visitors and collectors talking to people from galleries. It's also a chance for the art scene to recognise itself as a community, a mob that has a public and a mission, often pursued selflessly and altruistically against the liabilities of running a gallery in town.

    The commissioned works, exhibited at centre stage, have a considerable role in shaping the event because they have the potential to create a keynote for the bustling arcade of shopfronts. This year, both commissioned works rise to the occasion, reflecting two related vital issues in contemporary society: our relations with the Third World and the imminent meltdown of the First World economies due to dwindling petrol.

    David Griggs has constructed a tent (Frog boy's dissertation into a new karaoke cult, 2008), painted with large billboard imagery, uniting the use of canvas in its twin role as tarp and picture. His bright images are painted with hired hands from the Philippines, using a skill that is, alas, under threat of disappearing through new technologies.

    With the facility of Indian billboard artists, Griggs' paintings have embedded in their construction the ethical quandary of Western capital buying cheap off-shore labour. Europe is especially clever at this game: it gets the tough work done in sweatshops but adds value through clever image-design and messages, so the commodity becomes lucrative for the entrepreneur in global markets. As in the famous Marxist analysis, very little of the profits is returned to the workers.

    Griggs has achieved an ingenious inversion of what normally happens. In the art market, artists do the work but others make a killing out of the investment, leaving crumbs to the artist in the garret. Griggs has made a new solidarity between himself as commissioner and hired labourers, as both seek to keep something alive that might otherwise perish. Inside the tent, Griggs is seen in a video purchasing a large crucifix to take to a local family as a gesture of identification.

    Taking on the other side of our scary world, Peter Hennessey with My Humvee (inversion therapy) has constructed a mostly wooden Humvee armoured personnel vehicle with blind windows and stood the fortified car on its nose. It's the famous car that has been seen - the right way up - taking Americans on their tour of the embattled OPEC nations. Hennessey's spectacular, perfect crash has both military and economic overtones, as the wheels of manufacture have lost touch with the earth.

    Together with military breakdown, his humbling of the Humvee is a token for every petrol-dependent quarter of society; because sooner or later, they will all have their noses rubbed in the consequences of our collective headstrong ecological blindness.

    The precarious black monument balancing on its bullbar sends out waves that ricochet throughout the Art Fair. For example, it's felt in the beautiful sculpture of a disembodied and exploded motorbike by Richard Goodwin at Christine Abrahams. Called Red Octopus, the sprawling machine has fallen out of assembly through stresses beyond its nuts and bolts.

    So, too, the slightly sick lament for automotive love in Scott Redford's appropriations of road culture at Gould Galleries. The panels plastered with zooming logos are flattened out, as if prepared for the tomb, morbidly turned into paintings on the end of speed.

    Even the scene of an airport by Joanna Lamb at Johnston Gallery makes you uncomfortable, as if the jet has lost the wherewithal to reach the runway. The jumbo is already a pale antique, ironically fossilised by the absence of fossil fuel. In other pictures, her streets have no motor cars in them: the roads themselves - all designed for cars - seem deserted and obsolete in their graphic width.

    Even the Aboriginal art this year has become galvanised as so much more than a beautiful commodity, especially with the leadership of urban indigenous artists. Brook Andrew at Tolarno Galleries, with spooky historical material in top production values, and Gordon Hookey at Nellie Castan Gallery with a confronting gallows and pungent imagery, provide a historical and political centrepiece to contextualise the beautiful productions from the desert.

    Outdated laws hurting international Aboriginal Art sales

    Here is a very interesting article about the problems Aboriginal Art collectors from overseas can face when purchasing expensive and important pieces.

    With the market having experienced phenomenal growth this decade, sometimes laws that seemed adequate just a few years ago can quickly become outdated and problematic.

    Hopefully the government can recognise this and move quickly to rectify the imbalance that is now obvious in today's market.

    Buyer beware

    The rest of the world is being denied Aboriginal art by outmoded government laws, writes Benjamin Genocchio.

    JOHN WILKERSON IS waiting for his painting. Last July, the New York-based collector of Aboriginal art bought Tommy Lowry Tjapaltjarri's painting Two Men Dreaming at Kuluntjarranya (1984) at Sotheby's annual Aboriginal art auction in Melbourne for $576,000. He paid for the artwork, and Sotheby's went about the process of applying for an export permit. He is still awaiting a response.

    A decade ago, the Federal Government amended the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986 to keep valuable national heritage objects - specifically Aboriginal paintings produced at Papunya during the early 1970s - in Australia. Since then, every Aboriginal artwork at least 20 years or older with a market value of more than $10,000 has required export clearance.

    I am all for banning the export of art of national cultural value. For example, Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri's 1977 painting Warlugulong also sold at Sotheby's last year for $2.4 million to a dealer acting on behalf of the National Gallery. This was a work of real national significance, one of the most important 20th-century Australian paintings, and rightly deserved to remain in Australia.

    But the law protecting cultural heritage is no longer serving the interests of Aboriginal artists, the international promotion of Aboriginal art, or the market. I would even go so far as to say that it has been very damaging to the art market as a whole, and to the world's awareness of the best Australian Aboriginal art. If we do not change the law, the international market will wither and die.

    Take Two Men Dreaming at Kuluntjarranya. Not a single Australian art museum or public institution bid on the painting when it was put up for auction, according to Sotheby's. It contains no representations of especially important secret or sacred Aboriginal ancestral material, nor does it have massive historical significance. It is from 1984. Wilkerson bought it fairly on the open market. But a year later he still hasn't heard a word about its status, other than that its export was "deemed contentious" by "experts".

    The problem here is at least twofold. On the one hand, the export permit guidelines have not kept pace with the galloping market for art. The average price for a work by a young or emerging Aboriginal artist is $5000 to $10,000, while established artists charge between $50,000 and $100,000 a painting. This means that potentially every work of Aboriginal art now being sold could be subject at some point to our protectionist, nationalistic export laws.

    There is also an inexplicable discrepancy between the breadth of export controls applied to Australian indigenous and non-indigenous painting. Export controls on non-indigenous Australian paintings (photographs, sculpture and works on paper are governed by separate guidelines) only apply to artworks at least 30 years or older with a market value of more than $250,000. This sounds more reasonable. Why, then, is the law not the same for both?

    Then there is the length of time it takes for the export permit process. This is a real disincentive to international collectors of Aboriginal art. According to Sotheby's Tim Klingender, it is "not unusual" for the export permit process to take "a year or year-and-a-half" to complete.

    Meanwhile, the artwork typically sits in storage at the auction house, bought and paid for but unable to be delivered. (The Tommy Lowry recently received a temporary export permit for exhibition in the US in 2009 and is being reframed prior to shipment.) If the export permit is denied, the buyer is stuck having bought a work they can't take out of Australia.

    Nobody likes the idea of foreigners buying up our precious heritage. I know I don't like it. That is why we have the law. But the legislation as it stands today is so sweeping in its scope that overseas museums and private collectors are effectively prevented from acquiring any important Aboriginal art. We are damaging, in the process, years of efforts by art centres, dealers, auction houses, museums and the Australia Council to promote Aboriginal art internationally.

    We are also short-changing artists, as foreign money increasingly heads elsewhere in the international art market. This has a real impact. Having visited dozens of Aboriginal art communities over the years, I know all too well how poor most artists are. I also know art making is often their only independent source of income. Artists do not benefit directly from record auction prices for their works when they are sold by private collectors, but it can often enable them to charge equivalent sums for new works. This means more money in their pockets.

    Big secondary market prices also give people confidence in buying the very best - and expensive - contemporary Aboriginal art, so it has other benefits as well. Think about this for a minute: if one said that contemporary Chinese art could not leave China, or that Damien Hirst's many and varied artworks could not leave Britain, or that Jeff Koons' sculptures could not leave the US, do you think that the value of these works of art would have risen so significantly?

    I am not advocating scrapping Australia's cultural heritage laws. What I am advocating are export controls that balance the desire to protect our nation's cultural heritage, the rights of owners, and the promotion of a buoyant international market for Aboriginal art. But, most importantly, I am arguing for laws that recognise that if cultural property has a value beyond a particular country that gives it significance, then it is also worth sharing.

    Benjamin Genocchio, a former art critic for The Australian, lives in New York where he writes for The New York Times.

    Here is the original article featured in The Age

    Raymond Walters Japananka exhibition


    Raymond Walters Japananka To Hold Exhibition

    by Paul Cashmere

    One of the Australian Aboriginal communities most respected artists Raymond Walters Japananka will hold an exhibition in Melbourne next week.

    Raymond`s art comes from the lineage of Clifford Japaitjarri Possum, considered by many to be the Aboriginal art worlds most renowned artists.

    One of the more recent well-known works of Raymond was his commissioned design of the V8 Supercar for Team Vodafone 2008.

    His works is noted for its use of colour and texture of traditional drawings. “During the dreamtime and many generations between then and now, our culture and traditions were created during ceremony on the `Stomping Grounds`. We still to this day use the grounds of our ancestors,” said Raymond.

    Raymond Walters Japananka works will be on display from Wednesday 23 July at The Katrina Manton Gallery, 325 Montague Street, Albert Park.

    Out of the desert exhibition opens in Sydney

    Foxtel viewers may have seen the ads for the following exhibition in the last few weeks.

    Great to see such a fantastic exhibition being promoted on national TV.

    If you have the opportunity, be sure to have a look!

    Papunya Artwork Exhibition opens at the Australian Museum

    The Aboriginal exhibition, ‘Papunya Painting: Out of the Desert’ at Sydney’s Australian Museum opened last Saturday featuring a collection of rare Indigenous artworks.

    There are early masterpieces of the renowned 1970s Papunya Tula art movement that spanned more than a decade and transformed understandings of Aboriginal art.

    Within the exhibition there are 37 paintings and 24 cultural objects, two paintings of which are accompanied by music played overhead in the museum. They include the 1974 ‘Ngurrapalnga’ by Uta Uta (Wuta Wuta) Tjangala Old Man Dreaming and 1974 ‘Possum Men of Yirtjurunya’ by Anatjari (Yanyatjarri) Tjakamarra.

    All the paintings are of Dreaming stories and feature ‘dot patterning’, some such as the 1975 ‘Budgerigars in the Sandhills’ by Billy Stockman Tjapaltajarri consisting of splashes of bright pink colours symbolising the travels of his Budgerigar ancestors.

    Yet the acrylics, according to Vivien Johnson, curator of the exhibition, were still being developed at the time they were painted, showing just how innovative the artworks really are in their experimentation and depiction of contemporary Aboriginal culture.

    A must see at the exhibition is the 1975 painting ‘Trial by Fire’ by Tim Leura Tjapaltjarri that needs to be examined from afar to completely capture its haunting presence. An ash coloured patterning is used to create the smoky shape of human figures upon a dot pattern background.

    There is also a ‘Tjitji Gathering Place’ for kids, a perfect area for kids on school holidays to relax, play and learn, with tables where kids can trace their own ‘dot patterning’ artworks.

    Throughout the exhibition kids can also engage themselves by reading the information tiles placed next to each artwork and object, whilst following a honey ant trail that takes them from start to finish.

    ‘Papunya Painting: Out of the Desert’ will run at the Australian Museum until November 2 2008.

    Admission is $15 adult; $10 concession / WYD08 pilgrims; $7 child (5 – 15 years); Free for children under 5 years of age.

    WARNING: Visitors should be aware that this exhibition includes images and names of deceased people that may cause sadness or distress to Aboriginal People

    Time to step on some Aboriginal Art

    Here is a great idea. Aboriginal Art you can walk all over!

    It seems so obvious but up until now quality carpets have not been readily available featuring Aboriginal designs.

    No more worrying if 87% off RRP is a great bargain or a Persians ticket to retirement :)!

    Aboriginal Art seems the perfect fit for the rug market and now there is a company offering the concept in a serious manner to all art enthusiasts.

    Be sure to have a look at the websites!

    Stunning carpet art

    Stylex Carpet introduces an exclusive range of new designs in woven axminster and hand-tufted, hand-carved rugs. Their new axminster line, Quadrato is a minimalist interpretation of the ultimate Italian style available in four stock colours with custom colours available. Constructed of the finest wool, Quadrato is suitable for commercial or residential premises and will provide years of quality performance and fine floor fashion.

    Stylex has brought a new twist to aboriginal art by introducing the Dreamtime in textile form. In collaboration with Glen Austin and three Aborginal artists, “Forty Thousand Spirits” is a collection of original designs interpreted in hand-carved, hand tufted rugs.

    Their beauty is breathtaking, their colours extraordinary, and their stories magical.
    Each Dreamtime art piece rug in this 13 piece collection is sized at 2m x 3m (78.5” X 118”) Weight – 80 oz/ yd2 and is priced upon application. Dreamtime Rugs are Museum/Heirloom quality constructed of 100% Pure New Virgin New Zealand wool.

    The entire collection may be viewed at
    The new Stylex web site at is packed with loads of great new carpet and rug design ideas. The site has been designed to load fast for easy and quick searching.

    Boycott of Art Award draws wide spread criticism

    With the Telstra Indigenous Art awards rapidly approaching, a furore has erupted over the boycott by a number of art centres. I personally don't agree that this is the best way to with issues that they may have.

    Telstra have been a fantastic supporter of Indigenous art and the award has become the most prestigious in the country.

    Concerns about the transparency of the guidelines for competitors seems a stretch from my point of view as it has always been tough for artists, galleries and art centres to have their works selected for the awards. If they accepted works on a whim then maybe there would be a legitimate issue but if you ask many people, it is very difficult to get selected. For this reason it surpises me that a question mark about quidelines has arisen.

    I feel that the issues run much deeper than guidelines regarding entry to a competition and have much more to do with certain people's thoughts on how art centres should or shouldn't be managed.

    That is a whole separate story and the Telstra awards do not deserve to be potentially tarnished due to disagreements over issues the organisers and Telstra have no control over.

    There are much better ways to argue a cause than to drag the whole industry down by trying to make a point through the very public, well known and supported Telstra awards.

    The bottom line is that the artworks in this years Telstra awards will deserve to be there, no doubt about it, and the only realistic question regarding the entries will be that many others did not make it that probably deserved too, if numbers permitted.

    Some will say that it is unfortunate than many fine artworks miss out but it certainly shows the art world that the guidelines for entry are not compromised.

    Boycotting of indigenous art award attacked

    Ashleigh Wilson, Corrie Perkin

    A RESPECTED Northern Territory gallery owner has slammed a decision by remote art centres to withdraw their work from the nation's most prestigious Aboriginal art award.

    Organisers of the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards went to ground yesterday after The Australian revealed works from six Aboriginal art centres had been withdrawn.

    The works, all short-listed for the final round, were pulled following rumoured ethical concerns from the centres about other entrants in the competition.

    It is believed the origins of the dispute go back two years, when a prominent private dealer took over the operations of a western desert art centre in competition with other community-owned art centres.

    Darwin gallery owner Karen Brown yesterday called on the art centres to explain their reasons for withdrawing their works from an event aimed at celebrating leading Aboriginal art. "Withdrawing their artists is insulting all the other artists (in the awards) as well," Ms Brown said.

    "Let's get together in the industry and discuss it. This is a time of celebration of great artists and great work."

    John Oster, executive officer of Desart, the umbrella group for Aboriginal art centres in central Australia, told the ABC most people in the industry were fair, reputable and legitimate. "However, there are perennial stories that keep surfacing, they almost surface by the month about unethical and nefarious goings-on," he said. "And that doesn't do the industry any good."

    Dianna Isgar, co-ordinator of the remote Papulankutja Artists, said she did not enter any of her centre's artists because of concerns about the transparency of the guidelines for competitors.

    As the controversy threatens to overshadow next month's awards, Telstra's sponsorship manager, Greg Swain, yesterday reaffirmed the company's commitment to the event.

    National Association for the Visual Arts executive director Tamara Winikoff said the dispute highlighted the need for an industry-wide code of conduct.

    Artist Roseanne Kemarre Ellis, who sells paintings through the Amoonguna Arts Centre on the outskirts of Alice Springs, is one of the many indigenous artists who entered the awards but missed out on selection. "Everybody should put in their painting for the Telstra award," she said.


    Aboriginal Art Blog Copyright © 2008 Black Brown Pop Template by Ipiet's Blogger Template