The Heart in Art

First Hand Solutions Aboriginal Corporation developed the Blak Markets model after identifying a series of barriers in the industry and community. These included a lack of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples/organisations in decision making roles within the marketplace which can translate to a decrease in economic benefits going directly to Artists or other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island organisations working in community to improve outcomes. They built a model that supported small business with location, insurance and marketing to enable them to enter the marketplace at a higher place on the supply chain and four years later the markets continues to innovate because of its ability to respond to needs of the community and demands of the market ie customers wanting an ‘authentic’ indigenous experience.

In 2017 we trialled the Heart in Art program at the Blak Markets which sponsored 21 remote aboriginal artists and 11 remote art centres to come to Sydney as we wanted to see if remote Aboriginal art centres would also benefit from the Blak Markets model in benefitting from selling directly in the marketplace alongside our local stallholders.

First-Hand Solutions also organises 3 days of professional development for remote artists while they are in Sydney as part of the Heart in Art program as well as connecting artists with local Aboriginal community groups. This forms part of the cultural exchange between urban and Aboriginal communities as First-Hand Solutions takes urban youth and artists to remote communities to learn from the people still connected to the land and where culture is still practiced  -this knowledge and skills increase pride and resilience in urban youth as they realise they are part of a culture going back 40,000 years.

We had extensive feedback from these remote art centres after this first event not only about the benefits of being present from a professional development perspective, but also the stallholders (local stallholders and art centres) making a combined $250,000 profit in one day and recommended holding a two day annual indigenous art fair in Sydney in line with other state-based indigenous art fairs which is why we are running this  over two days at the Overseas Passenger Terminal this year.

We pride ourselves at our Art Fair that there are so many artists present as its important that these artists from remote communities also get the chance to learn from the marketplace but this presence also gives visitors to the market the chance to talk to the maker and hear their stories -a rare opportunity in Sydney. This is important in this era of fake art where up to 80% of Aboriginal artefacts sold in the tourist shops are marketed as Aboriginal but are made overseas.



National Indigenous NAIDOC Art Festival Sunday July 1 10:00am to 5:00pm

Facebook Event:




Stiff Ginns

Rebbeca Hatch


Maddison Lyn



Wagana Aboriginal Dancers

Redfern Dance Company

Bush food Cooking Demonstration:

Jody Orcher from Shared Knowledge

Aunty Beryl Van Oploo


Warnum Art Centre will provide a ochre painting workshop

Warnum Art Centre will provide a free ochre painting workshop


Itja Ntjarra/Many Hands Art Centre will off a watercolour painting workshop

ltja Ntjarra / Many Hands Art Centre will offer a free watercolour painting workshop

Communal Weaving Workshop



Blak Markets hosts Remote Aboriginal artists from across Australia at National Indigenous NAIDOC Art Fair


The Overseas Passenger Terminal was transformed into a thriving National Indigenous NAIDOC Art Fair from 30 June – 1 July 2018, to kick off celebrations ahead of NAIDOC Week 2018. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists from more than 22 remote art centres in the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia brought their artworks, sculptures, textiles and accessories to Sydney to exhibit, sell and host workshops demonstrating their unique arts and cultural practices. alongside more than 30 local stalls from around New South Wales and a 2 day festival program of activities including bush food demonstration, music, dance and workshops. 

As part of the packed program, Jody Orcher of Shared Knowledge and Indigenous hospitality identity Aunty Beryl Van Oploo hosted bush tucker cooking demonstrations; some of Australia’s best Indigenous weavers will collaborate and demonstrate their craft; and artists from Iltja Ntjarra Many Hands Art Centre will demonstrate the renowned ‘Hermannsburg School’ style watercolour painting, in the tradition of their grandfather, Albert Namatjira, arguably one of Australia’s most famous artists of the 20th century. 

In the spirit of the 2018 National NAIDOC Theme “Because of her, we can!”, the two day event includes an all-female line-up of live music by the Stiff Ginns, Triple J Unearthed High Indigenous Initiative winner in 2017 Rebbeca Hatch, Mi-Kaisha and Maddison Lyn, with dance performances by Wagana Aboriginal Dancers and Redfern Dance Company.

The National Indigenous NAIDOC Art Fair was presented by the Blak Markets, a social enterprise arm of First Hand Solutions, and supported by the Australia Council and the NSW Government via its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW, in proud partnership with the Port Authority of NSW.

First Hand Solutions, CEO, Peter Cooley said: “This was an exciting opportunity for Sydneysiders and those further afield to browse and buy high-quality Aboriginal art directly from a range of artists from some of Australia’s most remote communities, "Peter said. "Almost 15,000 people came and enjoyed the two day festival which also meant putting our charities  Heart in Art program into action - providing economic and professional development opportunities to Aboriginal artists working in remote communities around Australia. 

 The Art Fair was followed by a 3 day professional development program, sponsored by Lendlease, which is part of the Heart in Art program and introduces the remote art centres to places that exhibit, commission and sell Aboriginal work. Visits this year included to National Design Centre, Art Gallery of NSW, Macquarie Art Foundation and NITV.


Food Stall Holders:


Shared Knowledge