Signing an Indigenous artwork
To sign or not to sign
Why do some Indigenous artists sign their work and others not?
Indigenous peoples don’t have a written language or alphabet.
Signing an artwork is a western concept- to prove identity.
Indigenous peoples recognize their identity in the artwork by the art itself – as a language belonging to their skin name but also the story - which may only belong to them.
Hence the oldest living culture has been sustained by ceremony, story, and song and dance without any form of documentation – to a point.
There are carvings and cave paintings but none containing a definitive alphabetical language, more so a type of hieroglyphic language if you will.
The artists will learn to write in English and sign their western name typically. Some artists like Helen McCarthy Tylamuty and Rosella Namok, will sign on the front of their artworks as a point of pride.
Helen is a trained teacher and Rosella has had lots of crossover with Western style artworks, living in Cairns, and going back and forth to the Lockhart river region.
The desert artists have been more isolated for longer and haven’t had an opportunity to learn how to write in English - I’m talking about the older generation.
It is not a necessity but does makes sense for the art buyer to know that the artist has identified themselves and a line of authenticity has been established.
Just a bit of trivia and thought it may be of interest to some of you,
I’d love some feedback on anything I write-please feel free to comment or share your feelings.
I get asked about art as an investment often. I would suggest that there have been many people somewhat duped that were guaranteed they would profit from selling their artwork if they held it for 10 years.
My question is, where are those dealers now? It is irresponsible of an art dealer to sell art by average artists as investments.
Maybe their magical crystal ball was in the workshop that day..
I might make a joke but surely being misled is no joke..
I put it to you like this - to varying degrees, all art is an investment of your hard earned.
True, to a point, but I want to prepare you a little more than being told the artist is dead so buy their work.. an artist must be successful whilst living!
The word investment sometimes gets thrown around a lot a little too casually for my liking.
Buying for investment is a rewarding and great way to indulge in the way of art.
It's just important to be armed with the facts...that's all.
This is for the newbies.
These are some good questions to ask .
If you love the artists work, have you seen many examples and are they all good "quality" or consistant with the artists approach to painting?
If you can tick these boxes , and buying an artwork for an investment for you is an added bonus to your already wise investment arrangement, then I would say go ahead and invest.
Art is bricks and mortar and a great artwork by a great artist will always be just that.
Let me know if you have found anything of interest in this blog or you like to discuss the value of your work,
I am also available to source works with pedigree provenance they may potentially be a good investment for you.
THE ARTS AND ISOLATION
It's a difficult time for everyone in the arts industry. Dealers and auction houses are closed and artists are literally isolated in the most remote parts of the desert in Australia. As with us all, I really hope that the arts industry can remain strong and supportive and in doing so, help revive and bring us back to the powerhouse we were becoming. I am speaking of the Aboriginal Art movement of course. Yes, I wish the whole industry well, but my focus is the Indigenous artists. Their lifeline and support - high street galleries, cannot bring their works to a market fast enough to a market with zero footfall. Some artists may never produce artworks again and this is a detriment to the world as a whole. As we know, the way in which Australian Indigenous culture passes on its heritage and dreamings is through the many different mediums the artists choose to use. Being dot paintings, Raark, weavings and carvings just to name a few. I would only say that now more than ever, is a time to keep supporting the industry by purchasing the work that you love. Connect with the best galleries that have the best quality works and the provenance required. Galleries like Kate Owen Gallery in Rozelle Sydney, Cooee Gallery in Paddington and Japingka Gallery in Perth.Connect with me to have your artworks valued. If the industry does lose some of its ability to bring artists works to market over the long term, the value of artworks will be a topic that will be discussed in great details amongst the industry and I can see some very big increases in demand with quite possibly not such a capable supply. We buy art for the love,the feelings it envokes and how it generously warm our walls. We also invest our hard earned money into our purchases. Let me help you as I offer my professional valuation services with direct knowledge and clarity of a sometimes confusing topic.
I am passionate about good art. Simple. After many years travelling the world and seeing some incredible artworks, I cannot overcome my love of Australian Aboriginal art. It moves me and gives me the connection to our county that I think is intended by the artists. A small glimpse into the Indigenous ideology and mystery surrounding this great land of ours called Australia
Selling at auction vs private sale
I don’t think that there’s a whole lot of difference between artworks and property when it comes to selling platforms, in particularly live auctions versus gallery sales.
Auction has its benefits and so does private selling.
Let’s talk about the seller for a moment-
The main issue with auctions is that you really do need 2 people to be at the auction who both want the property/artwork and actually see the value in the lot being sold,
There is a sense of urgency and no matter how long the buyer has prior to do their due diligence, the auction environment can bring out the beast in us all!
The buyer’s premium is usually about %20 as an average and then there is your delivery in the case of art. These are 2 costs that need to be taken into consideration as %20 isn’t to be sneezed at.
The softer approach is usually where the buyer can relax into the sale and therefore have a better opportunity to potentially get the price they want to pay or at least have the conversation in more than 7 minutes! For the seller, it means they also have an opportunity to wait for the best price and not be pressured into a sale.
In the auction environment, the seller can also feel pressured into selling for less than the items worth as they are caught up in the rush of the sale, reserve or not.
Think about what your bottom line is when it comes to selling as either way has its positives and negatives. Think about your top dollar when it comes to buying as well, how much you are willing to spend.
If you would like a pre-auction/buying report, as you are thinking of buying, please contact me and we can discuss what the value of the artwork is, what you would be willing to spend and what I would recommend you focus on,
Remember, a little bit of knowledge is great but a well-rounded and informed opinion is critical to your buying or selling success.
The Steve Martin Collection of Australian Aboriginal Art proved to be a resounding success when showcased at Gagosian's gallery in New York then In Hollywood and now currently in Asia. The tingari artworks painted by one of the Pintupi nine Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri are astounding. The other big hitters are Bill Whiskey, Yukulti Napangati and Emily Kame Kngwarreye. These major artworks have been collected from different sources, though the western desert artworks provenance stems directly from Papunya Tula PTY LTD. I would like to mention to new collectors that art centres are only one way of acquiring artworks .From my many years of experience the private sector has
some of the best of the Papunya Tula artists works. By this I mean, the artworks were painted in private studios by the artists and not in gated communities where the artists were first shown paint and canvas. For Emily Kame, there was no art centre and her Earths Creation was painted for Dacou gallery. What I am trying to say is, don't let bias about how to source artworks play with your emotions. Artists are entrepreneurs and independent people who can paint when and where they like. The private studios have a major role in supporting the Aboriginal art world and as long as the studio abides by the strict ethical code of the pan body of Aboriginal visual arts, The Aboriginal Art Association of Australia, then your have nothing to worry about when it comes to artists being treated fairly and being paid accordingly. Happy collecting.