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  • Writer's pictureArt Index

Art Index: Bridging the gap between First Nations artists and investors.

Updated: May 21

As the oldest continuous civilisation on earth, Indigenous Australians share an extensive history of visual storytelling. In fact, Aboriginal rock painting is the longest-unbroken art tradition on the planet.

For nearly 50 years the Aboriginal art market has grown rampantly, with Australian Indigenous fine arts now showcased and celebrated widely across the world.

Art collection leasing company Art Index Founder Sacha Clemens had this in mind when a chance encounter saw him meet Kamilaroi man and founder of BlackRoo Community Indigenous Corporation, Steve Fordham. The pair forged a partnership that not only supports First Nation Australians but also helps businesses meet the Federal Government's Reconciliation Action Plan.

Connecting artists with investors

Established by Sacha Clemens in 2007, Sydney-based Art Index has built an extensive portfolio of fine art now valued at more than $30 million from both emerging and established Australian and Asian artists.

Art Index leases artworks to reputable organisations to provide its clients with fixed-term, high-yielding rental income and provide corporate spaces with culturally significant, thought-provoking artwork.

In terms of financial value, Art Index's rental agreement can offer low-risk fixed returns of up to 10.25 per cent per annum and sometimes for up to a minimum of three years.

Included in Art Index’s collection are a number of impressive works by First Nations artists, including renowned names such as Ronnie Tjampitjinpa and Walangkura Napanangka, Judy Watson Napangardi, George “Hairbrush” Tjungari, Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri, Ronnie Tjampitjinpa, Tommy Watson to name a few. All of these have had global recognition for beautiful interpretations of their individual historical bloodline dreaming and teachings they have shared across the international fine art market since the 1960s.

Supporting Indigenous Australia

The vision between Mr. Fordham and Mr. Clemens was to utilise Art Index’s suite of Indigenous artworks in a first-of-its-kind collaboration with BlackRoo Community Indigenous Corporation.

The partnership saw Art Index rent out certified indigenous fine art to corporates, with a significant percentage of the rental revenue made from leasing the First Nations and Australian art going directly to BlackRoo.

Founded in 2020, BlackRoo is registered with the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations and the Australian Charities Not-for-profits Commission. The Corporation is endorsed by the ATO as a Deductible Gift Recipient and is registered with Supply Nation.

Blackroo facilitates the Balund-a Program in an NSW Northern Rivers Community Correction Centre that trains indigenous inmates in TAFE Cert II Construction Pathways. Aimed at addressing Australian Indigenous over-representation in the prison system, the program provides non-Indigenous and Indigenous people who have had turbulent starts to their lives either through being caught in the welfare system or have been incarcerated throughout Australia, BlackRoos’ and Art Index’s commitment to better young humans life reducing the chances of reoffending, get further education, opportunities that they may have not been given, graduates are encouraged to join the “Second Chance For Change” program run by Mr Fordham’s contracting business in the Hunter Valley, NSW. Mr Fordham said that only one out of the more than 100 individuals that went through the program have fallen back into the prison system, reflecting how the program can achieve successful reintegration into the local community for all those that need that chance all humans have the right to receive regardless of gender, race or life circumstances, with a view of a brighter future.

As well as supporting “Second Chance for Change”, Art Index’s financial contribution to BlackRoo aids in the not-for-profit’s ability to offer businesses a way to fulfil their mandatory quota under the Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) framework, which provides guidelines on how to develop relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

A fresh opportunity for investors

Amid a multi-billion-dollar global art market, Indigenous art presents a unique and valuable investment that is steeped in history from the world’s oldest culture.

Through Art Index’s partnership with BlackRoo Industries, First Nations’ artwork is being recognised not only for its cultural value but its financial value too.

Recent auctions at Sotheby’s New York have seen certain artwork sold for more than $1 million – signalling the considerable interest for people to get their hands on these prized possessions. A Numinya piece (top) from 1977 was sold for an astounding $152,837, while Kirrimalunya (middle), created in 2001 was auctioned off for $114,628.

Remarkably, a Water and Bush Tucker Story piece (bottom) from 1972 was sold for in excess of $1 million. The average price of George Tjungurrayi’s paintings, a traditional Pintupi man, sold in Australia, has risen considerably over the past couple of decades, with average prices at auctions sitting at almost $80,000. This is far superior to the base figure of less than $20,000 in 2018.

This demonstrates that interest in First Nations artwork is growing and growing fast.


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