Prince Harry seems to be in trouble with some Aboriginal artists:
In terms of cultural distances, they don’t come much greater than Buckingham Palace and the deserts of Western Australia. But Prince Harry has unwittingly put the two worlds on a collision course with his Aboriginal-inspired A-level artworks, unveiled earlier this year as part of his 18th birthday portraits.
The images flew around the world. They may have sparked admiration at home, but by the time they reached the Aboriginal communities that had inspired them, that admiration had turned to anger. With a sense of cultural understanding worthy of his grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Harry – due to spend his gap year in Australia later this year – has offended Aboriginal people before he has set foot in the country.
Some of Australia’s best-known Aboriginal artists have recently become aware of the prince’s paintings of lizard motifs and claim he has stolen their culture. That the artworks have been valued at Â£15,000 each has compounded the insult to poor desert communities.
“He needs to get down here and see where it [the lizard symbol] came from,” said Julie Dowling, who is among the top five contemporary urban Aboriginal artists. “He needs to figure out where that image came from, he needs to follow it back,” she added, saying the lizard symbol had totemic significance in at least seven Aboriginal regions and many clans.
“What he has to realise is that when he does that, he’s ripping off another family. His grandmother is the head of his church, he should show respect for other people’s religions.”
Prince Harry has wandered into one of the most contentious new issues in Aboriginal communities – the problem of intellectual property rights over cultural works sold in an unregulated market.
Buckingham Palace said the paintings do not “purport to be an aboriginal piece of work. We haven’t received any formal complaints and it’s never been the intention of the prince to cause any offense.”
The post also talks about Mutant Message Down Under.
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