Collecting Aboriginal Art


THE Aboriginal art market, like all areas of discretionary spending, has suffered as a result of the GFC.

Buyers have become more scarce and the owners of many "primary" galleries selling new works are struggling.

But Albert Namatjira’s work has held up very well during the downturn, according to D’Lan Davidson, the head of Aboriginal art at Sotheby’s.

That is partly because, despite his producing about 2000 paintings, they don’t come up for resale very often, Davidson says.

"You could say they are somewhat rare. And because people can comprehend them quite easily, his work has continued to sell very well over the past 12 months."

Prices have almost bounced back to the peak of 2006, with a work selling recently for $45,000.

Three other works all sold at a recent auction.

Buyers of Namatjira’s work are all within Australia, Davidson says.

"The international market is much more endeared to more traditional Aboriginal work."

There has been a definite upturn in the global market recently, judging by the last Sotheby’s auction, Davidson says.

"Some of the avid, big-name collectors are starting to come back into the market, and they’re driven by passion rather than speculative investment."

Among emerging artists who would-be collectors should be considering, Davidson suggests Daniel Walbidi, a Bidyadanga painter "with something special about him, who is producing beautiful work."

Walbidi’s art is available through the Bidyadanga Artists in Broome – the kind of Aboriginal Art Centre which can guarantee the authenticity of a work, and ensure the returns go back to the community.

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