Indigenous artwork made in the remote town of Katherine is being sold for thousands of dollars in plush art galleries across Australia, but it isn't always the artists gaining from the profits.
"The typical story is, the artist gets stranded in town and needs to make a quick buck to either get home or buy food," chief executive of Katherine's only Indigenous owned and run art centre, Mimi Aboriginal Arts, Michael Miller said.
"We are talking about a marginalised group of people where art is their only means out."
He said in the worst of cases private art dealers or "carpetbaggers" are buying vibrant paintings for just $200 and reaping the benefits of sales into the thousands.
Marjorie Gibson is one of five local artists showing a body of work translating a continuing culture over 65,000 years old, at an exhibition at the Katherine Doorways Hub this week.
The exhibition is advocating for ethical trade and a greater awareness on the value of Indigenous art.
Originally from Lajamanu, where her art is near-famous, Ms Gibson says without painting, life would be difficult.
"I have always painted, we used to go see our father and mother who would do painting, and we copied.
"My father is the expert, his dreaming is passed on from generation to generation."
Ms Gibson is a familiar face at the Katherine Doorways Hub, a drop in centre for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
She used to go solely for breakfast, a shower and to stay connected in a town where family is stretched far and wide, but now she goes to paint.
"I love it because it's my knowledge and it keeps my dreaming alive," she said.
But it is also much more than that - for Ms Gibson, her art is her income.
A sale puts food on the table, and at this time of year, allows her to visit family in Lajamanu with gifts to give on Christmas day.
The exhibition is still in its infancy with just one other, last year, under its belt. But much has been learnt from that first run, the Hub's new coordinator Junie Baptiste-Poitevien said.
"We don't want this to be a one off event, we want to build profiles, build money management skills and advocate for ethical trade so the artists can continue working," she said.
"The people who come here have hardships, so why not use their skills and turn it into employment using art as a gateway."
She said some artists in Katherine receive so little for their work, they can't afford to live.
"Art is the sole income for quite a few people who visit the Hub.
"Some of the art gets sold to art dealers for far less than they are worth and then sold on for thousands in other regions. In other words the artist doesn't get the profit.
"We are hoping to raise awareness, so when art dealers buy art they know they should sell it for an ethical price, but we also want artists to have a better grasp on what their art is worth."
Well known artist Ron Manyita has been painting since he was 15; all those years ago he would tell his stories on bark.
He would go out hunting with his father to collect white clay and black ash.
These days, his art is on canvas, and hangs on the walls of the only Indigenous owned and run art centre in Katherine - Mimi Aboriginal Arts - for just a short time before being sold.
He receives the majority of the sale, but it hasn't always been like that.
"I've been ripped off before," he said, "I've been doing this for a long time."
"My dad would tell me 'this is your culture, keep it tight and don't lose it, put it on bark and get it out'.
"But back then I would need money. I would get a little bit, maybe $200 or $300. I didn't know what was right or wrong then, but looking back I should have got more.
"Working with Mimi, I know how much I get and they help me get my paintings done."
In 2009, an Indigenous Art Code was established to drive down unethical and damaging practices.
CEO of the Indigenous Art Code Gabrielle Sullivan said that while dealers might be exploiting artists living in some of the most remote and financially deprived communities in Australia, it is not necessarily illegal.
Advice for artists generally is to work through community-owned Indigenous Art Centres or to sell to reputable dealers under an agreed contract - where the terms and conditions are transparent.
But that is not always a realistic reality for artists in the Northern Territory.
"In a lot of places, there might not be an art centre. An artist could be paid $200 and a dealer sells it for $1000. That's not fair, but it isn't illegal, and potentially that artist needed that sale for personal reasons.
"What could seem like a poor choice to you or me could be the artist having agency and making their own choices but that still is not an excuse for unfair treatment."
In towns like Alice Springs, where many artists work independently of an art centre structure, livelihoods are dependent on working with private art dealers and galleries or making direct sales, Ms Sullivan said.
"They are individual artists who rely on income from their art making and the relationships they have with private art dealers and commercial galleries.
"They do not have access to the support structure of an art centre to provide art materials, documentation of their art artwork and an organisation which they are members of to exhibit and sell their work."
"There are lots of great art dealers and commercial galleries across Australia, many are members of the Indigenous Art Code and we encourage all consumers to ask questions of the galleries they are buying work from, who is the artist, where is the artist from, how was the artist paid? Don't be scared to buy Aboriginal artwork, be educated and ask questions about your purchase."
Mr Miller echoed the same sentiment saying the unethical art trade needed to stop.
"It is undercutting the artist and taking away an income stream. We are talking about stories that have been around for thousands of years being sold for $30."
He said while the government works to put an end to the practice, it is up to buyers to make the right decision.
"It comes down to the person who is buying the artwork. They need to make the ethical decision. If you know it is priced to high, don't buy it."
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