Indigenous art & craft

Indigenous art & craft at Songlines Gallery Darwin - Buku Larrnngay Mulka

Explaining artworks at Buku Larrnngay Mulka

Around this big island of ours First Nations Australians are using traditional and modern materials and techniques to express ancient cultures and knowledge systems and contemporary experiences of being Indigenous. Because many of our artists work in remote locations the actual origins of the artworks can seem a bit mysterious, our job is to demystify this for you. Songlines brings you a curated selection of arts and crafts in a range of media from all over the country and we also provide extensive interpretive information about the creators, the processes and the materials.

Nearly all the First Nations artists we represent are members of remote community art centres. Follow the link to find guides to art centres produced by their representative peak bodies around Australia.

In our retail and exhibition spaces we showcase Indigenous and non-Indigenous art and cultures with a focus on the Top End. We understand and promote the importance of authenticity and provenance. We want you to know the origin of each and every artwork. All our products are presented in a culturally appropriate way and with full attribution and documentation.

Know the origin – because #fakeartharmsculture

Posters from the #fakeartharmsculture campaign by the Indigenous Art Code

The strong consumer desire for Indigenous arts, crafts and souvenirs has led to a lot of fake art being offered for sale. There are also many artworks of dubious provenance, where the artists may not have been remunerated fairly or the artwork may have been acquired under duress. Our founder, Felicity Wright, has spent 35 years championing art centres and building awareness of good practice from production to labelling and marketing and brings this ethos and depth of knowledge to Songlines.

In the souvenir market, mass produced items with Aboriginal motifs are created by non-Indigenous people in Australia and also overseas, especially in countries with cheap labor costs. Many of these may claim to be ‘hand painted’  or ‘designed by’  Indigenous people, yet there is no way of verifying this, or being sure that the artists had consented and authorised use. Concern about this practice and the money that is not going to Indigenous Australians triggered the ‘Fake Art Harms Culture’ campaign. We encourage you to read more about it via the link.