Colourful, inspiring and rich in culture, traditional and contemporary Aboriginal art is making its way into home interiors in a big way. Large paintings to handcrafted sculptures, each form of artwork is a celebration of the tradition of storytelling from the world’s oldest living culture. And there is nothing quite like an authentic work from an artist, some who still lead a traditional life, and others who have adopted a westernised lifestyle. Each piece of work depicts Dreamtime stories around country, family and spiritual homelands.
With a plethora of galleries and shopfronts selling Aboriginal art, we've rounded up the best (and affordable) places to source authentic artwork that comes directly from the artist and indigenous communities.
An online marketplace of Indigenous artwork, ArtArk supports the artist and their community through a sustainable and ethical platform, meaning the money from each sale goes directly to the Aboriginal artist through fair payment. Here you can find traditional and contemporary paintings, as well as Arnhem Land Weaving, which is where the artist uses traditional bush dyes and pandanus leaves to create sculptures, baskets and bags. The prices vary considerably, ranging between $100 to $3000.
Papunya, a small town 250 km north-west of Alice Springs, is known to be the birthplace of the Western Desert dot-painting movement. Here you'll find Tjupi Arts, a 100% Aboriginal owned and directed community arts organisation, which services around 100 artists from Papunya and surrounding outstations. You can visit the art centre, and purchase directly from the artist while learning about them and their culture, or purchase from their online store.
PMB 101 via Alice Springs, NT
Located in Alice Springs, Mbantua is a fine art gallery and cultural museum with an online presence. Browse their website for authentic artwork by ndigenous artists from the Utopia region and Arnhem Land. The paintings themselves come in a variety of sizes with different price points. For something a little different, Mbantua also collaborates with Utopia Australia, the go-to for contemporary Aboriginal designs across a range of giftware. Artists from the Utopia region have their vibrant designs featured on notebooks, cushion covers, tote bags, and cooler bags.
64 Todd Mall, Alice Springs, NT
Based out of Perth, Japingka Aboriginal Art Gallery has over 4,500 authentic Aboriginal artworks in stock – large paintings, dot art, artefacts, and landscape art – all available at a variety of prices to suit every price tag. For those who are on a budget, their sales page has a limited range to choose from. Their website is also a wealth of information, not only about the artists who create the work but of indigenous culture, stories and the symbols that are portrayed in the works of art.
47 High Street, Fremantle, WA
One of Australia’s largest art marketplaces, Blue Thumb allows art lovers to buy direct from emerging and established artists through their website. It's been a real gamechanger in the world of interiors. Browse through an incredible amount of art across a variety of mediums and collections, including the Aboriginal Art collection, which is vast. You can browse through paintings with traditional dot technique to contemporary designs. And to make it easy to find your ideal piece, the site allows you to narrow your search down by budget, size, orientation and collection.
Over three light-filled floors in Sydney’s inner-west, Kate Owen Gallery showcases major exhibitions of indigenous artists, both established and emerging. Kate Owen also has their own dedicated indigenous art studio in Alice Springs, which allows them to source central and western art directly from the artists. The artwork is also sourced from the Kimberley’s and Top End. From traditional dot art to contemporary landscapes, you’re able to purchase artwork online or from the gallery and at a variety of price points.
680 Darling Street, Rozelle, NSW
Ethical, contemporary and affordable: these are the guiding principles behind The Artery in Sydney’s inner-city. Many of their featured artists hail from the Northern Territory, where they create contemporary art that tells their story and the connection they have with the land, their families and their communities. By purchasing from The Artery – be it online or from their Darlinghurst-based gallery – means you are directly supporting the artist and their communities.
Shop 2, The Westbury, 221 Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst, NSW
Why buy when you can lease the artwork for a fraction of the price? A self-funding government initiative has been providing direct support to contemporary Australian artists through the acquisition of their work and then leasing it on to businesses and individuals. Artbank has over 10,000 works spanning across multiple disciplines, giving the broader community direct access to some of the best examples of Australian contemporary art, including Aboriginal art. You can lease art from just $165 a year, with six to 12-month lease arrangements.
Artbank is located in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth (or browse online)
An art form of storytelling that has evolved from rock art to traditional dot paintings to contemporary interpretations of Dreamtime, artists continue to be inspired by their individual stories, family, community and country. Purchasing authentic works through these platforms is not only affordable but supports Aboriginal art and artists themselves. A win-win all round. For more artistic inspiration and home decor ideas, head over to Sitchu Living.