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DAAFF Yarns… with Stephanie Parkin

Feb 3, 2021

The best way to stay connected and strengthen community? Take the time to listen to each other! Having a yarn and seeking to understand the roles and motivations of others helps build a sturdier more coherent group, no matter the industry.

Our DAAFF Yarns series has sought to do just this. Here, we’re giving insight into Australia’s Indigenous Arts industry and DAAFF’s role within it, having a chat with some of our community’s key players.

Today we chat with Stephanie Parkin, Chair of the Indigenous Art Code, an organisation created to establish standards of dealing between an Indigenous artists and dealers.

Stephanie is from the Quandamooka People of Minjerribah, or North Stradbroke Island. She graduated from the Queensland University of Technology with a Bachelor of Law and Justice and is undertaking a Masters’ of Philosophy, researching the manufacture and sale of fake Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and products in the souvenir market.

Words | Camilla Wagstaff

Stephanie, tell us about the Indigenous Art Code (IAC)’s primary mission? ​

The Indigenous Art Code’s purpose is to establish standards of dealing between an artist and dealers to ensure:

  • Fair and ethical trade in artwork;
  • Transparency in the process of promotion and sale of artwork; and
  • That disputes arising under the Code are dealt with efficiently and fairly.

Another important purpose of the IAC is to ensure that artists maintain agency and decision making over the use or licensing of their artworks and cultural expressions.

Can you tell us a bit about the history of the IAC? ​

The IAC was established as a result of the 2007 Senate Inquiry into the Indigenous Visual Arts and Crafts Sector. It opened for memberships in 2010 and is led by a board of directors from the Indigenous visual arts industry and broader community. We encourage all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander visual artists and those who deal in such works to become members of the Code. 

The Code maintains standards for dealings between dealers of Indigenous art and the artists. Why is this important? 

Establishing, maintaining, and improving dealings between dealers and artists ensures that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists are treated fairly in relation to the purchasing or licensing of their artworks. Ethical and transparent arrangements – where artists have exercised agency and decision making – also act to ensure the artists’ Indigenous cultural and intellectual property rights are respected and protected. 

Such standards also support dealers to commit and embed these principles in their arrangements with artists. Consumers are also becoming more aware of ethical supply chains and purchasing, and increasingly informing themselves and asking questions about artist arrangements. 

How does the IAC and Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation work together? 

When the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair (DAAF) occurs as a physical event, IAC staff typically attend. We meet with artists and Art Centres to build relationships and offer support services. The IAC has also had stalls at the event in prior years, in partnership with the Arts Law Centre of Australia and Copyright Agency. At previous stalls we have promoted and provided information about the Fake Art Harms Culture Campaign and also surveyed attendees about the concept of fairness and what this looks like in the Indigenous visual arts sector. This campaign was launched at DAAF in 2016!

What does the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair and the Foundation’s related initiatives mean to the Indigenous arts industry? 

The events and initiatives are a key opportunity for consumers to purchase from artists and Art Centres. They also stand as an important annual gathering of artists, Art Workers, collectors, staff and industry stakeholders and supporters. These are events and opportunities that we really value as a chance to start conversations and build connections.

Image | Kira Kiro Arts booth at the 2018 Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair. Photo by Dylan Buckee.

“Whether you are buying from an Art Centre, a gallery, a dealer, an auction or an art fair, don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions.

Three key questions every buyer should consider:

Who is the artist?

Where is the artist from?

How does the artist get paid?

How can buyers know they are buying Indigenous art ethically? ​

Whether you are buying from an Art Centre, a gallery, a dealer, an auction or an art fair, don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. Three key questions every buyer should consider:

Who is the artist? 

Where is the artist from?

How does the artist get paid? 

We encourage buyers to look for the Indigenous Art Code members who display our logo on their website or shopfront. Such members have demonstrated a commitment to upholding the principles of ethical and transparent trading as required under the Code. We also encourage buyers to ask questions about the works they are purchasing.

2020 has thrown plenty of curve balls our way. How has this affected the IAC? 

​Covid-19 has impacted the way in which we would normally interact with our members, including meeting at face to face gatherings like DAAF. During this time, we have listened carefully to our artist members and their needs and launched the Our Art is Our Lifeline campaign. The campaign profiles nine Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists from across the country, showcasing the breadth and diversity of art and cultural expressions across the nation. 

The campaign hears from the artists themselves, about what informs their arts and cultural practices and how they have adapted throughout the pandemic. The Our Art is Our Lifeline campaign calls for continued support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists through online sales and via transparent and ethical channels. Information on the campaign and avenues to purchase through it can be found on our website indigenousartcode.org.


Thank you to Stephanie Parkin for sharing her knowledge as part of the ‘DAAFF Yarns’ series.  

You can see more from the Indigenous Art Code at indigenousartcode.org.

Thanks for reading! Be sure to subscribe as the series continues, and if you haven’t already, catch up on our last posts with Art Centre manager Joann Russo, First Nations curator Jessica Clark, and artist Lisa Waup.

Story Image Credits: 

Blog Profile image courtesy of Stephanie Parkin