Ethically Purchasing Aboriginal Art in Central Australia
Here's what's easy to see: Aboriginal art is on abundant display in and around Alice Springs, the Outback town at the heart of Australia's Northern Territory. For travelers, it is probably the most visible manifestation of Australian Aboriginal culture – the colorful dots and figurative renderings now typical of many things from Down Under.
But here's what's not always explained: It's the longest continuing art tradition in the world and a critical income generator for the Aboriginal community.
Given this, visitors should always give more thought to what art they buy and where they buy it. They should be making informed and ethical decisions, but may not know where to turn for good information. Fortunately, resources do exist.
For example, I encourage everyone to consult Desart, the Alice-based Association of Central Australian Aboriginal Art and Craft Centres, which supports and represents the region's Aboriginal-owned art centers, especially those in remote locations where the community roles they play are critical.
Buying directly from an artist is often the best way to support that artist; Aboriginal community art centers are no different, often as close as you can get to a community and thus perhaps the most ethical places to buy Aboriginal art.
For more about ethical trading in Aboriginal art, I also recommend reviewing the Indigenous Art Code (indigenousartcode.org), a commercial code of conduct that aims to ensure fair trade with Indigenous artists.