Appropriation or Appreciation?

Appropriation or Appreciation?

“Hi, I’m a non-Indigenous person and I really love these designs but want to know if it is appropriate for me to wear this?”

This is a question we receive often at Welcome to Country. And it can be tricky to navigate the space between what is cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation. Firstly, everything on our site is appropriate for all Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to buy, wear and love! Purchasing and wearing our products, supports and promotes awareness and understanding of Indigenous cultures. Secondly, products on Welcome to Country are ethically sourced so your purchase is not only an expression of cultural support for Indigenous cultures it also helps economically support Indigenous artists, families and communities.

In answering this question we decided to ask two of our artists how they feel about non-Indigenous people wearing Indigenous designs.

Kathleen Buzzacott is the artist behind the artworks featured on Allegria’s range of jewellery. Kathleen’s art studio is 20km west of Alice Springs located in the West MacDonnell Ranges. She is an artist, poet and designer and is of Pitatjantatjara and Western Arrernte heritage.

“I think it is great to see non-Indigenous people wearing our designs. It makes me feel good to see that. These people are supporting and promoting our people and our culture.” Kathleen went on to say, “ My collaboration with Allegria Designs is wonderful. I love the thought of people wearing my stories as jewellery. It makes a great talking point for the wearer, creating an open dialogue and interest for Aboriginal Art. You can’t separate art from culture; I think it is really great when people want to learn about the stories behind the art, it helps to connect them to the piece through understanding.”

Mick Harding is from Ngarga Warendj Dancing Wombat, which creates fine art pieces as well as beautiful giftwares in wood, leather and metal. Mick is a Taungwurrung Kulin man, his studio is located at the foothills of the Strezlecki Ranges in Churchill, Gippsland, Victoria. Mick explains “As long as the art is purchased/licenced ethically, I am happy for people to share in the stories that my artwork articulates. I share my artwork to share the stories of my people, to create more understanding of design in South East Australia.”

We went on to discuss the benefits artist like Mick and Kathleen experience from creating pieces for a broader audience that are ethical produced and sold with fair royalties paid. Mick said “Selling my artwork/products with my designs, allows us to survive in this modern world, while also being able to continue our songlines/stories.”

Both Mick and Kathleen agree there is one thing you should understand and respect when wearing Indigenous designs. Indigenous art is inseparable from culture and Country and needs to be worn with respect for and knowledge of the culture the work represents.

All of that said everything available on Welcome to Country is a statement of cultural appreciation, so shop to your heart’s and conscious’ content.

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