What is provenance?

Provenance – know the origin:

  • ‘the place of origin or earliest known history of something’
  • ‘a record of ownership of a work of art or an antique, used as a guide to authenticity or quality’

When you purchase any artwork or cultural souvenir – we believe it’s really important to know its origin. This is especially important in relation to Indigenous Australian art.

We encourage people to ask questions like:

How do I know who made it, where and when was it made? And who the design/image belong to? And very importantly, were they fairly paid?

Since Indigenous art has become collectible and sought after, there have been some issues with exploitation, intellectual cultural property breaches.

Many people are interested in buying authentic Indigenous art and we want to make sure that consumers learn how to establish the rightful provenance.


You may have heard of the campaign that is working to educate consumers to buy ethical Indigenous licensed products #FakeArtHarmsCulture

Provenance Arts has a preference for stock that is fair-trade at all levels of the supply chain. We like to encourage everyone to buy mindfully and ethically.

Aboriginal or Indigenous?

Indigenous is used to encompass all peoples whose ancestors lived in Australia prior to 1788 – both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Aboriginal people live on mainland Australia, Tasmania and a number of close islands such as the Tiwi Islands.

Torres Strait Islanders live on a distinct group of islands to the north-east of Cape York, Queensland.

For Indigenous residents of the Northern Territory, ‘Aboriginal’ (or ‘Aborigine’) is the most commonly used generic term used to describe themselves and they use it proudly.

Every language group has their own word(s) for ‘human man/woman’ and use these to describe themselves and there is also a word for non-Aboriginal/Indigenous people.

In Kunwinjku the word for Aboriginal people/men is ‘bininj’. It means man but is also used as an adjective to describe someone being an Aboriginal person. The word for woman is ‘daluk’.


Photographs of displays and artworks in the gallery are allowed subject to the below agreements. Our demonstrators are generally very gracious about being photographed, however, we ask you to abide by the following.

Number 1: Always ask permission. Respect the answer.

Number 2: Photographs taken at Provenance Arts by visitors are purely for personal use. It is acceptable to post photographs on social media.

Number 3: It is not acceptable to use any photos you have taken at Provenance Arts for commercial purposes unless you have entered into a written agreement with Provenance Arts and/or the person being photographed.