Fake Indigenous Style Art Harms Australia’s First Nations Peoples: Don’t Buy It

A parliamentary inquiry into proliferation of inauthentic Indigenous ‘style’ art and craft heard that up to 80% of all souvenirs sold in Australia supposedly to represent First Nations cultures are fake.

The beautiful artwork we’ve featured here is by talented Aboriginal artist Elizabeth Close. Close displays her artwork in galleries and has many available for sale via her Facebook page: Elizabeth Close – Aboriginal Artist.

The Indigenous Affairs Committee released its report, making eight recommendations for reducing the prevalence of imitation First Nations art and craft.

Committee Chair, Ann Sudmalis said the inauthentic items had no connection to First Nations peoples and were often cheaply made imports.

“The misappropriation of First Nations cultures in this way is unacceptable and cannot continue unchecked,” she said.

Aboriginal artist Elizabeth Close
AUTHENTIC ART: A beautiful work by Aboriginal artist Elizabeth Close.

The report, available on the committee’s website, includes recommendations that:

  • the Productivity Commission conducts a comprehensive structural analysis of the First Nations art and craft markets so that the economic opportunities for First Nations communities can be determined;
  • the Indigenous Art Code be properly funded to foster responsible retail and supply practices;
  • First Nations art centres be better resourced for capacity building; and
  • effective information guides and standards be developed to inform customers and businesses about authenticity.

“These imitation products have a profound and harmful effect on First Nations peoples and do not teach or inform the buyer about Indigenous heritage, as they have no connection to it,” said Ms Sudmalis.

“First Nations peoples have been the custodians of their cultures for tens of thousands of years.

“It is an ethical and moral demand that we assist this guardianship into the future,” she said.

The committee’s recommendations are intended to chart a path forward to foster and preserve authentic First Nations cultural expressions for the benefit of all Australians.

Big thanks to Aboriginal artist Elizabeth Close for giving Sustainability Hackers the OK to feature her beautiful artwork to complement this important story.

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Elissa Jenkins

Elissa Jenkins

Elissa Jenkins is Sustainability Hackers’ Founder and Editor-In-Chief. Elissa founded Sustainability Hackers to inspire a hacker approach to sustainability – using excitement, innovation, creativity and technology to make the world a better place.

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