MEET THE ART DEALER

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Karl Ba­jzik, co-owner of Yubu Napa, has been sell­ing Abo­rig­i­nal art for a decade. The gallery is hung with both tra­di­tional art (an­ces­tral “doc­u­ments” told in dots and iconog­ra­phy) and the ex­pres­sive art in­creas­ingly prac­tised by younger Abo­rig­i­nal artists.

What’s your con­nec­tion with Abo­rig­i­nal art? I grew up in an Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­nity near Kather­ine and spent some time in Abo­rig­i­nal ed­u­ca­tion. My part­ner,

Ric Farmer, who used to work in one of the big stu­dio sheds, saw artists work­ing in ter­ri­ble con­di­tions and get­ting paid a frac­tion of their worth. We got to­gether and thought, “We can do bet­ter than this.” You call Yubu Napa an “eth­i­cal gallery”. What does that mean? It’s about trans­parency and be­ing fair to both the artist and art buyer. We pay our artists 30 per cent of an agreed sale price when they com­plete a can­vas and then a fur­ther 20 per cent when it sells. So it’s an in­come. In the stu­dio to­day, we have Andrea Adam­son, who’s trav­elled from the Amata com­mu­nity [in South Aus­tralia] to visit her mother in Alice Springs Hos­pi­tal. Our ar­range­ment means she’s able to earn for the month that she’s in town. What ad­vice do you have for peo­ple look­ing to buy Abo­rig­i­nal art? Shop eth­i­cally. Re­search the gallery and the stu­dio and make sure artists are safe­guarded. Don’t buy on im­pulse; go home, think about it and study the artist on­line. And be aware of qual­ity, be­cause stu­dios pro­vide artists with dif­fer­ent ma­te­ri­als. Are the paints wa­tered down? If you’re pay­ing a lot, are the can­vases good Bel­gian linen? You rep­re­sent about 100 lo­cal artists. Where are they based? Many come from desert com­mu­ni­ties. But when we say “lo­cal artists”, we’re talk­ing a 1500-kilo­me­tre-wide cir­cle around Alice. That’s Alice Springs for you – 1500 kilo­me­tres is con­sid­ered lo­cal!

Karl Ba­jzik, co-owner of the Yubu Napa gallery (top left); art­works in progress by Lola Nampitjinpa Brown (above left) and Andrea Adam­son

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