There is a lot of ethical questions that can be asked when purchasing aboriginal art. Probably what people should be made aware of is who gets the money? sometimes unscrupolus art dealers or carpetbeggers as they are more commonly known, travel to remote communities and supply artists with materials and have them paint also sometimes under direction,(what colours to use, pre painted backgrounds etc etc). a very small amount of money, sometimes clothes or even worse alcohol is given in exchange. these dealers then list the paintings and sell them at huge auction prices which return huge profits to the dealer. also sometimes dealers or galleries will have included a certificate of authenticity.
These certificates mean absolutly nothing unless they are produced by a recognized art centre who supply galleries or retail the works themselves.Some galleries have formed thier own art watchdog groups so they can lead the public into believing they are doing the right thing by the artist. Usually a sure fire way you can tell the business is dodgy are the deplorable photographs of the artist holding up the work. This does not give any authenticity whatsoever and also degrades the artist.
Having worked in aboriginal art galleries and centres for 16 years now, i feel people should be made more aware of where their money goes. Art centres usually always offer some training to aboriginal youth in the running of an art centre as well as employment and support aboriginal culture, as well as up and coming artists.
Carpet baggers only line their pockets with your money. If you are sreious about purchasing some fine art then always check where the certificate is produced. Gallery generated certificates are no real proof of what the artist is getting. A gallery owner could just as easily go out bush and do whatever he feels. Then produce the certificate back at the gallery.
Please always check the providence of fine art, or look online for more information, please look into art centres who are trying to help communites by providing aboriginal people with meaningfull work which in turn helps to develop confidence in the workforce.Also please support art galleries who sell art with certificates from registered art centres.
thanks for your time