Awe-inspiring Aboriginal artists and designers to discover – plus how to make an ethical purchase
Awe-inspiring Aboriginal artists and designers to discover – plus how to make an ethical purchase

Awe-inspiring Aboriginal artists and designers to discover – plus how to make an ethical purchase

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve brought you some seriously amazing beauty brands and clothing labels that are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander owned and operated, or in support of local Indigenous communities in Australia (you can check them out here and here if you missed them) so that you can continue to transform intentions into actions and show your support for #BlackLivesMatter. This week, we’re shining a light on some awe-inspiring artists and jewellery makers but before we delve in, when it comes to buying Indigenous art there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Firstly, in many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, art sales are one of the main sources of income so it’s imperative to buy ethically and authentically. In doing so, you are not only protecting your own investment but showing respect and ensuring the artists are paid fairly. The Indigenous Art Code exists for this very reason so if you’re unsure, head there first for some tips. Another thing to keep in mind is that Indigenous art is not just something pretty to hang on a wall – of course it is beautiful but it’s so much more than that. It’s an expression of knowledge production and sharing, a celebration of culture and the tradition of storytelling and it comes in many, many different forms and styles.

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The Papunya Tula Art Movement
The Papunya Tula Art Movement began in 1971 when a school teacher Geoffrey Bardon encouraged some of the men to paint a blank school wall using the traditional style of body and sand ceremonial art. The resulting mural inspired an explosion of artistic activity and is widely regarded as a seminal moment in contemporary Indigenous Australian art. In the next year, the artists successfully established their own company. Fast-forward to today, Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd is entirely owned and directed by traditional First Nations people from the Western Desert, predominantly of the Luritja/Pintupi language groups and represents around 120 artists. While the original mural is no longer visible, the movement it inspired continues and pieces by many Papunya Tula artists can be found hanging in most public galleries, major museums, institutions and many large private collections within Australia as well as overseas. The ongoing aim of the company is to promote individual artists, provide economic development for the communities to which they belong, and assist in the maintenance of a rich cultural heritage. Take a peek at the online gallery here.

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APY Art Centre Collective
The APY Art Centre Collective is a group of ten Indigenous-owned and governed enterprises located within the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands (APY Lands) in remote Central Australia in the far northern tip of South Australia. The collective includes seven professional art centres that facilitate and market the work of 500-plus Anangu artists. Through these centres, culture is celebrated, maintained and carefully imparted to younger generations by Aboriginal elders. The APY Art Centre Collective is home to some of the best-known Indigenous artists in the country, as well as a host of young and emerging artists that are carving their own path and exploring a diverse range of mediums to express and share their Tjukurpa (Dreaming Stories), which have been passed down from their ancestors. Joined by Maruku Arts from Uluru, Tjanpi Desert Weavers based in Alice Springs, and Ara Iritja Aborignal Corporation – the APY Art Centre Collective is one of the most celebrated and ambitious Indigenous art studios in Australia. Take a look at the online gallery here.

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Haus of Dizzy
Haus of Dizzy is the handiwork of Kristy Dickinson, a proud Wiradjuri Woman and queen of bling. Kristy’s range is as bold as it is beautiful and features oversized earrings, necklaces, pins, charm bracelets, personalised pieces, wall art and jewellery stands that are intended to spark conversations. Each piece is designed, laser cut, hand painted and assembled in Kristy’s studio in Collingwood in Melbourne. You can find Haus of Dizzy in over 15 stores throughout Australia including The Melbourne Museum, The Museum of Contemporary Art, GOMA and The Iconic. Haus of Dizzy pieces have also been spotted on some high-profile celebrities including Miss Lauryn Hill and Drew Barrymore, and has been featured in Miranda Tapsell’s movie Top End Wedding. Take a peek here.

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Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre
Based in beautiful Burleigh Heads, Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre is the Gold Coast’s only dedicated Aboriginal cultural centre and is fully owned and operated by the local Aboriginal community. The centre provides a one-of-a-kind tourism experience that includes guided walks along the picturesque beachside rainforest walkway that wraps around the magical mountain Jellurgal. Here, you can learn about the history and culture of the Gold Coast, meet a traditional land owner and hear about traditional Indigenous life pre-contact, bush tucker, fishing, hunting and important ecological practices. The Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre also showcases some exquisite original arthand-painted dollshomewaresjewelleryaccessories and music, which are available to purchase. The centre was temporarily closed as a result of COVID19 but will reopen its doors on Monday July 6. In the meantime, take a look at the online shop.

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Gillawarra Arts
Gillawarra Arts is the brainchild of Krystal Hurst, a Worimi Woman who designs and makes incredible jewellery using materials from nature as well as creating contemporary Aboriginal artworks on canvas. Krystal’s pieces speak of the sky, land, rivers and sea and through her work, old knowledge and new stories are interwoven by Aboriginal women for its wearers to feel a sense of pride, connection and empowerment. Krystal’s vision is to create jewellery for women and men to feel strong, connected and empowered. Shop the range here.

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Rachael Sarra
Rachael Sarra is a contemporary artist from Goreng Goreng Country who uses art as a powerful tool in storytelling to educate and share Aboriginal culture and its evolution with her audience. Her work challenges and explores society’s perception of what Aboriginal art and identity is and draws upon her heritage and role as an Aboriginal woman in a modern world. Rachael’s pieces are bright, bold and colourful and her work is as pretty as it is powerful. Browse Rachael’s current pieces online here or have a look in person at Open House in West End.

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Warlukurlangu Artists
Warlukurlangu means ‘belonging to fire’ in Warlpiri language, and is named after a fire-dreaming site west of Yuendumu. Founded in 1985 and incorporated in 1986, Warlukurlangu Artists is one of the longest-running and most successful Aboriginal-owned art centres in Central Australia. Since its inception, Warlukurlangu’s art has became recognised for its bold use of colour through an unrestricted palette. Nowadays, the paintings tell the story of the artist’s connection to country, the features of the landscape, the plants and animals that are found there and the creation that occurred in the Dreamtime. Artists have their own particular styles or palettes, and constantly experiment and vary their paintings, so the works are continuously evolving. Shop the online gallery here.

Still want more? We love to see it! There are so many amazing and inspiring Aboriginal and Indigenous artists to check out that and this has barely even begun to scratch the surface. Here are a few more artists we’ve been following – Kiya WattBronwyn BancroftMegan Cope and Kent Morris.

Image 1 credit: Margaret Richards from APY Gallery Adelaide
Image 2 credit: Haus of Dizzy by Laura Du Vue


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