ABORIGINAL artists are urging consumers to do their research after a recent Productivity Commission report found two thirds of Indigenous art sold last year was inauthentically produced.
In 2019-2020, $250 million of Indigenous art was sold, however only $83 million was actually returned to Indiengous run artists and businesses.
Yorta Yorta artist and City of Greater Bendigo First Nations Arts Officer Janet Bromley said the effect of inauthentic Indigenous art on the market has been widely felt.
"I think the biggest impact is on people's confidence and self esteem to be able to put their own art out there and make it a viable proposition," she said.
"If there's all this inauthentic art out there that everyone's buying, Indiengous artists might just think 'well why should I even bother?'."
Ms Bromley said the production of Indigenous art by non-indigenous people meant stories and culture were being lost.
"I don't know any Aboriginal person who makes art that doesn't have a story to go with it," she said.
"Sometimes when art is sold it comes with these elaborate stories, which I would say to be wary of, because a lot of Aboriginal art is just about a very simple tale.
"I've got a friend who makes boomerangs and the story is just about hunting emus in Bendigo, that's it - it's not very convoluted, but it's the true history of this area."
The commodification of inauthentic stories also have lasting impacts on the First Nations people of the area the art claims to be coming from.
"For anybody who thinks that it's coming from their family it's really insulting," Ms Bromley said.
"They don't just get angry because somebody's pinched their story, they get the sadness, that somebody would do that, and that their family story is being taken over by somebody or something else."
While the commission's report may have been shocking for some, artists working in the industry have been feeling the effects of phoney art for some time.
Ms Bromley said she wasn't surprised by the statistic, arguing "there's a lot of copying going on in the art world".
"You find (authentic art) fairly quickly these days, it's really not hard," she said.
"So these numbers are really no excuse anymore."
"We have to have the courage to go and ask that question 'is this authentic?'", she said.
"And you'll find out pretty quickly because Aboriginal people always want to talk about their art and the stories behind it."
In Bendigo, Ms Bromley said there is no shortage of authentic aboriginal art, ranging from expensive pieces to smaller, cheaper ones.
"If you go to something like Castlemaine makers market, there are Aboriginal artists there who have all sorts of different types of art," she said.
As the First Nations Art Officer, Ms Bromleys role is also to point buyers in the right direction.
"If somebody wants to ring me up and have a conversation with me, I can point you in the right direction to talk to somebody about the particular thing that you want," she said.
"It might be a painting, it might be a basket, it might be a shield, but there's no excuse not to find the right people to talk to and find the authentic people to make it for you.
"Because why would you want to buy Aboriginal art from someone who doesn't understand it?"
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