Productivity Commission proposes mandatory labelling, “cultural rights” laws to combat continued rise in fake Indigenous art

Home Arts Productivity Commission proposes mandatory labelling, “cultural rights” laws to combat continued rise in fake Indigenous art
Productivity Commission proposes mandatory labelling, “cultural rights” laws to combat continued rise in fake Indigenous art

When Luritja woman Sonda Turner Nampijimpa paints, she’s also telling the stories of her people passed down through generations.

Her latest painting is of what she describes as an “old story” — old women sitting together, digging deep into the ground for witchetty grubs and honey ants.

“My family taught me painting when I was a teenager,” she said. 

“I teach my grand-daughter when I go back home”. 

So when Ms Turner Nampijimpa sees fake Aboriginal art, in which non-Indigenous producers misappropriate these sacred stories, it hurts. 

“They just want to make more money for themselves,” she said.

A Productivity Commission report released on Tuesday found sales of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander visual art and craft totalled at least $250 million in 2019-20, and delivered income to almost 20,000 First Nations people.

But it also found that more than a fifth of that, $54 million, had been spent on non-Indigenous authored products.

A woman pointing at a traditional Aboriginal dot painting on the wall of a room.
The spread of fake Indigenous art affects the livelihood of artists like Sonda Turner Nampijimpa.(ABC News: Alexandra Alvaro)

Fake art was found to be “rife” in the souvenir market, where the commission estimated that two-third to three-quarters of products were now non-Indigenous authored.

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