Transparent Sales Site Bluethumb Brings Aboriginal Art to the Masses

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On bluethumb.com/au, a painting titled "Spiritual Healing" by Wangullay Connolly-Neal from Yarrabah, Australia, fetches $2,300. Thanks to bluethumb, a promotional space for Australian visual artists, artwork by the country’s indigenous peoples is being sold at fair prices to a growing online community of national and international buyers.

By and large, Aboriginal artists have remained disadvantaged by poor access to mainstream markets. They often receive substandard quotes for their art and are more likely to fall subject to unethical acquisition practices, reported The Guardian. Many of these Aboriginal artists live in the harshest and most remote deserts of Australia.

Bluethumb is playing a significant role in reversing these injustices. Aboriginal artists are now receiving fair prices and wider exposure, featured on bluethumb alongside young, emerging artists living in densely populated cities. “Whether you’re looking for the Central and Western desert’s traditional dot paintings, Arnhem Land’s x-ray art, or Melbourne’s Indigenous urban art, you’ll find it and more for sale in this collection,” bluethumb states.

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Bluethumb explains that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia carry on the oldest living cultural history in the world, dating back at least 50,000 years. “They are rich and complex with an intimate knowledge of mythology and the environment,” bluethumb states.

Many of the Aboriginal paintings for sale on bluethumb depict Dreamtime stories, their understanding of the world’s creation and natural rhythms.

Brothers Edward and George Hartley founded bluethumb. The former accountant and app designer joined forces to solve “two industry-wide problems,” Edward Hartley explained to The Guardian: “Where could people like us buy art? Back in 2011 it seemed like you could buy anything online, except original art. And, how did emerging artists build a career when less than 1% ever saw gallery representation? And we wondered if one online platform could solve these problems by connecting art lovers with Australia’s best emerging artists.”

So far, eight community arts centres feature their works on bluethumb's Indigenous-specific web page. The pair's powerful network of online collectors is growing, and they hope to build the "world's largest and most significant collection of Indigenous art, in one accessible place," Hartley said.