As the child of European immigrants born in Australia I naturally had family living in Europe, whom I would visit from time to time. My husband from France was one of eight children living all around the world. Thirty years ago, one could only buy the proverbial key ring or a teaspoon to take as a souvenir gift. I thought if I gave another stuffed Koala bear I would be sent home with it!
This got us thinking that surely we cannot be the only travellers with this problem and that there was a niche in the market place for good quality artistic souvenirs unique to Australia.What could this be?
It hit us like a bolt of lightening! "Australian Aboriginal Art".
It's so beautiful, so unique and so recognisable as Australian.
Well, had we known then what we know now, would we have gone ahead? Most definitely!
We were trailblazers in those days - energetic, young and adventurous and that is what was needed to start a totally new industry in a young country like Australia. Where and how does one start such a undertaking? Well it was all trial and error thirty years ago and we were the first company to endeavour to set up a business where by the Aboriginal Artists and Communities would receive royalties.
Firstly my husband and business partner Sam packed his bags and bought a ticket to fly to the Northern Territory (five hours to Darwin) and then many hours driving to Kakadu.
The roads were dirt roads in those days so one had to drive in a four wheel drive sometimes avoiding crocodiles and Kangaroos crossing the road! His idea was to venture into the outback communities to discuss the possibility of licensing some Aboriginal Art to produce on commercial products for which we would offer royalty payment directly to the artists and the communities.
I on the other hand, spent six months in the National Library researching Aboriginal Art in the archives....down in the dungeons below ground level blowing the dust of the books as I educated myself about the laws and traditions of Aboriginal culture and Aboriginal Art.
- by Anita Russell