Victoria Laurie from the Australian writes about a new canvas from Freddie Timms, Wunubi Springs, the first indigenous artwork to contain chemical encoding, a technique being trialled by the University of Western Australia’s Centre for Forensic Science as a way of distinguishing authentic works from forgeries.

Quoted from the article:

Each of the five colours Timms used has been encoded with a distinct chemical cocktail, effectively adding a “fingerprint” that can be read by laser to confirm the authenticity of the Jirrawun artist’s work.

“We can embed the chemical in the paints or apply a cocktail to a completed painting,” said Rachel Green, a forensic scientist at the university who is researching ways to tackle the growing trade in forged artwork.

“The chemistry is unique and cannot be removed or forged, so the hope is that art centres and galleries might one day use this technique.”

However Beverly Knight from Alcaston Gallery is sceptical:

“I can’t see how it can assist frail artists who are vulnerable tounscrupulous dealers,” Knight said.

“You could have three or four artists and you could just spread the magic dust over the paintings.

“It becomes just as unreliable as using photographs of artists holding their work, which is not regarded as reliable provenance. To have a secure set of work, you need to be able to track it back to the artist.”