The single most important factor in buying Aboriginal art is Provenance. So how do you make sure the provenance is adequate? What do you need to be aware of – and what is being done?

We are delighted that Jennifer Isaacs, a prominent Australian writer and pioneer in moves to gain respect for Aboriginal art and culture, talks about these questions in an article she has written for our News.

Part of this article, and providing an insight into our scientific capabilities to test art, Jeremy Eccles interviews another outstanding contributor, Prof Robyn Sloggett, Director of the Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation (CCMC) University of Melbourne, who talks about art fakery and new technology.

That provenance has become so key is a result of authenticity issues which have plagued the Australian Aboriginal art industry over the years.

Noting that reputable vendors will go out of their way to ensure authenticity, don’t be afraid to ask the following questions (originally compiled by ANKAAA):

1. When considering an artwork

  • Did the artist create the artwork?
  • Is there a legitimate certificate of authenticity that accompanies the artwork including when and where the artwork was created?
  • Is there additional accompanying documentation such as photos of the artists painting the work?
  • Is the price fair?
  • How does this artwork compare to other works by the artist?
  • Could this artwork be resold at an auction house?

2. When considering a vendor

  • How did the artwork reach this vendor?
  • Is the payment paid to the artist for this work fair?
  • Does the vendor belong to a reputable art gallery association?
  • Does the vendor operate under a code of conduct?

As a rule, ensure there is a Certificate of Authenticity to establish the origin of a work.

Legitimate certificates of provenance currently being issued by an art centre or gallery may include the following:

  • a picture of the artist and the work;
  • a description of the size and appearance of the work;
  • a description of the story that the art work represents;
  • the name, location and contact details of the arts centre or association that is
  • identifying the work; and
  • an authorising signature from a person representing the art centre or association


In the Aboriginal Art industry, there are three major concerns to satisfy whether the artist actually painted the work:

  • Is the artwork a forgery?
  • Is the artwork somebody else’s work with the artists name or signature?
  • Is the artwork the product of a collaboration?

If the item is Aboriginal craft additional questions should be answered before making a purchase, including:

  • Was the item made in Australia?
  • Is there a royalty payment to the artist from this sale?

The Aboriginal Art Directory recommends all buyers browse our resources for more information.

We support Aboriginal art centres and galleries that adhere to an ethical code of practice and provenance. The Aboriginal Art Directory provides for all buyers, the list of vendors of the following representative associations:

Further Information:
Information on this website is provided in good faith to try and help fellow Aboriginal art enthusiasts but may contain inaccuracies so please only use as a basic guide. Please contact any listed vendors directly to confirm that information is correct, up to date and always do your research before buying Aboriginal art. Please see our disclaimer for more information.