Jam-packed Aboriginal art fair a positive sign after period of controversy

In the face of the art tampering allegations at an APY Lands art centre, strong sales at a recent Aboriginal art fair are a reassuring sign the sector is holding up through the media storm.

When news broke that several artists at an APY Lands art centre had accused their art centre’s non-Indigenous staff of painting parts of their sacred stories and altering their works, the response from the sector was horror and dismay. But a recent Aboriginal art fair has allayed some of the fears about ongoing ramifications of the scandal.

As ArtsHub reported in the weeks after The Australian newspaper’s allegations, artists and art centre staff expressed concern that the allegations would affect a wider network of art centres that has, for many years, prided itself on best practice studio standards and appropriate artist support. It’s also an industry that thought it had stamped out dishonest, underhanded dealings many years ago.

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ArtsHub's Arts Feature Writer Jo Pickup is based in Perth. An arts writer and manager, she has worked as a journalist and broadcaster for media such as the ABC, RTRFM and The West Australian newspaper, contributing media content and commentary on art, culture and design. She has also worked for arts organisations such as Fremantle Arts Centre, STRUT dance, and the Aboriginal Arts Centre Hub of WA, as well as being a sessional arts lecturer at The Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA).