A Guide to Buying Aboriginal Art

Buying Art

Aboriginal Art – it is inspirational, provocative and incredibly beautiful. For many it is also an asset. It can be a daunting experience entering in to the art market and taking that almighty ‘leap of faith’ and invest in an artwork!

That’s why we’ve created this page. We believe everyone should enjoy exceptional, ethical art and this ‘insider’s perspective’ should help answer your questions on what to look for when buying an Aboriginal work of Art. This advice comes from the staff at Kate Owen Gallery, who have a combined total of 50+ years in the art consultancy business.

When it comes to investing in art, these are the key points of advice we make:

  • Always invest confidently in art, because an artwork will never be bankrupt
  • Value is found not only in the artist, but in the quality of a given work. Always buy the best you can afford.
  • If you love it, buy it. If you chose well, one day you may be able to sell it for a profit. And if you chose very well, you won’t want to.

When it comes to the Indigenous Australian art market,
there are some other important points you need to consider


The documentation that accompanies an artwork is known as its ‘provenance’ and is essential if an artworks’ authenticity ever needs to be checked. They are the documents that show the chronology of the ownership, custody and/or location of an artwork. Good provenance leaves no doubt that a work of art is genuine. 

Provenance can take many forms – it could be a signed certificate or statement of authenticity from a respected authority, an exhibition or gallery sticker attached to the art, an original gallery sales receipt, an appraisal from a recognised authority or expert on the artist, and images of the artist painting the artwork.

Unscrupulous sellers know the value of provenance and have become very savvy at manufacturing or fabricating provenance for their art in order to fool inexperienced buyers. Make Sure Your Certificate Of Authenticity Is Worth the Paper It’s Printed On!


We all know the saying ‘quality over quantity’ – but how does that relate to Aboriginal Art?


There is a big difference between low-grade and high-quality art materials; an artwork painted on poor quality cotton canvas has a high risk of turning brittle and crackling over time, whereas a material like Belgian Linen is considered one of the finest canvas materials you can use for an artwork. It is stronger, flexible and more durable than cotton canvas, and when primed can protect the paint from any possible damage coming through the back of the canvas. Hey, Michelangelo painted on Belgian Linen and they certainly have lasted the test of time!


Just as artists have those iconic works that are seen as the finest examples of their oeuvre, so too do they have those works that are less resolved. Knowing what a quality example of an artists’ work is can take a certain amount of expertise, or all you need a very good art adviser – someone who is not only knowledgeable, but someone who you feel you can trust and give you good advice.

Strict quality control is something that Kate Owen Gallery prides itself on and is what distinguishes us from many of the other Aboriginal Art Galleries.

Buyer Beware!

If the offer sounds too good to be true, chances are it probably is! 


Aboriginal Art Association of Australia