Tjanpi Desert Weavers and works on consignment

By Arts Law Centre of Australia on 18th April 2011

The Tjanpi Desert Weavers are Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara women from eighteen desert communities who make baskets, sculptures, beads and beanies. Tjanpi (meaning grass) began as a series of basket-weaving workshops held by the NPY Women’s Council in 1995.

In 2007, Tjanpi contacted Artists in the Black with a query about certificates of authenticity and the use by a gallery of images and biographical details about their weavers. When we realized that the agreement Tjanpi used to record its arrangements with galleries exhibiting its work didn't address a number of these important issues, we offered to prepare an exhibition contract which Tjanpi could use when it sent its baskets and sculptures to city galleries on consignment. The exhibition consignment contract we prepared for Tjanpi was the basis for the AITB art centre/gallery agreement which is now available on our website.  

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Tjanpi Ladies installing Kuru Alala Exhibition, 2009. Copyright Tjanpi Desert Weavers.

Although Tjanpi owned the sculptures and baskets it had purchased from its artists before sending them on consignment to the galleries, it did not own the copyright. Tjanpi needed a licence of copyright from the artists to use, and to permit the gallery to use, photos of the works.  Arts Law prepared a simple licence agreement for the artists to sign which covered the use by galleries of images of the works as well as Tjanpi’s own use of photos on its website and in its promotional materials. Today these matters are all addressed in the AITB artist art centre agreement.

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