1. Why did you start Vivien Anderson Gallery?
I returned from an extended period of living in Europe and took on the manager’s position at the Aboriginal Artists Gallery in Melbourne in 1985. In 1991, I decided to start my own gallery in the same city with a specific focus on the representation and exhibition of Australian indigenous artists.
The gallery is also a signatory to the Indigenous Art Code, which was established to ensure ethical dealing and transparency in working with indigenous artists.
2. How does buying aboriginal art help to support local communities?
We represent and support numerous artists through their community art centres, which tend to be located in very remote parts of Australia. The centres provide the materials and logistical support for artists to develop and maintain their practice. Also, an equitable percentage of any sale an artist makes through a community-owned art centre is then spent in community or on endeavours that benefit the community.
3. Have you noticed any changes in the aboriginal art industry over the years?
There has been steady growth in the interest for indigenous arts every decade since I started, regardless of the impact of major economic events such as the global financial crisis. Some people are attracted to the aesthetics, narrative and the rich cultural value of the work. Others are more interested in learning about the indigenous people of Australia through this art form.
I often say that during a downturn, art is the first to suffer and the last to recover. However, I’m noticing a positive strength in the market this year.
This increase can be attributed to the emergence of new artists and art centres who are working in new ways. These include on earth pigment, canvas, ceramics, glass as well as compositionally experimenting with colours and surface techniques such as big brush strokes, stippling and drawing over a paint wash.