Sad for SAVE - and Stolen Work

2014Article posted by Gilly

I’d decided to hold off writing this next ‘blog’ until the SAVE Exhibition was over, hoping to give good news. Unfortunately, not. The exhibition was in a fabulous location, the foyer of the Enex 100 building in Perth City, right on St George’s Terrace with office workers and shoppers in and out all of the two weeks. Cameron Murray, the Dalkeith vet who organised the exhibition and who is passionate about saving endangered species, particularly Africa’s rhinos, had done a fantastic job, not only with securing the venue and co-ordinating with security in the building for delivery of the artworks, but also in obtaining the stands and hanging the exhibition.

The paintings, such wonderful works of art, were clearly visible from inside the foyer and also through the huge plate glass windows out on the street and the exhibition looked stunning. I had my black cockatoos “SnackTime’ and my ‘Sea Horses’ beautifully positioned and felt very honoured to be included among such prestigious works of art. The sad thing is that NOT ONE SINGLE PAINTING was sold throughout the entire two weeks of the exhibition. Such a disappointment for Cameron and his fund-raising efforts after he had put in a great deal of hard work and personal time.

Why is no-one buying good, original art nowadays? Is it the fact that they can steal it so easily? There’s been a lot of chat of late among my circle of artist friends about how their work is being scammed and stolen. Cindy Lane, advised by a friend to do a Google search, discovered that many of her images have been ‘appropriated’ and used by businesses who haven’t had the manners to even contact her and ask her permission - a spa business, various website pages, even a marriage celebrant, just taking her work and featuring it. Christine Hingston knows that several of her painting images have been stolen and taken to Bali to be copied, and I’ve heard that it is common practise for people to just take A4 images of paintings by artists they admire directly from the internet and have them copied in Bali for just a few dollars.

Artists have copyright for their paintings, but this doesn’t deter the plagiarists because I think they know that most artists can’t afford to pursue this loss of their livelihood through the law as it would be far too expensive. So, not only are artists losing the sales on their original artworks, they are also losing any royalties. Many of them would be only too happy to allow their images to be used for a fee but, unfortunately,  a drawback of the Internet is the way in which other people’s work can be just taken and utilised without any fear of redress.

A couple of years ago I discovered that some of my paintings had been used by a company as online jigsaw puzzles, without anyone contacting me. I found out by accident,  just Googling. I’ve recently searched again but seem to be safe, so far. My work is so very realistic that it may be too difficult for someone to copy it, and fair to say that it isn’t really what people are wanting nowadays. They like the quirky and imaginative and maybe that is easier to fake - I’m only guessing. When I asked my daughter if there was anything I could do about these ‘jigsaw puzzles’ she said that it would probably be too hard, even if I could find out who posted the so-called website. She observed that once an artist puts their work on the Internet it was in the public domain and vulnerable. Even adding a watermark to the images is only a small deterrent as a determined faker can remove these.

There is an Art Law site and I must check that out, just to be armed in the future, perhaps.

It is certainly very difficult being an artist in this day and age!!!!

Personally, I’ve had a bit of a break from painting. I’ve felt jaded and out-of-sorts and the weather has been so cold!!! Not at all conducive to my normally intense work ethic! But I’ve finally started a new oil painting, lots of waterfowl on a pond. It’s just at block-in stage right now so looking a total mess!

Wanneroo-Joondalup Art Society celebrated it’s 40th birthday a couple of weeks ago with a luncheon at Hillarys Yacht Club. It was very well organised by Judy Hollinshead, the President, and her wonderful Committee, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Good food, good company, beautiful art on display by various members - what could be better?

Hopefully, next ‘blog’ my fingers will have warmed up and I’ll be able to report better progress with paintings.


Renata Wright | July 09, 2014

A very interesting article, Gilly.  I’m sure every artist gets despondent at times - I know I have - as we have so much against us, but if we remember to enjoy what we do above all else, then everything else will just be a bonus.  Keep doing what you do - your work is amazing!

Corinne Gull | July 10, 2014

Thank you Gilly, really interesting, I love your blog it is always fun to be in touch with likeminded artists.  I love your work, it is master-class and unique in the fact there are few around with your level of skills which makes you totally unique.  We admire! 
There will always be issues with the Internet and copying work.  I think that there probably isn’t one famous and popular artist that hasn’t been copied at one time or another.  I think we all need to look at it from the point of view that it is a compliment and we are on our way as we are never going to have control over the issue.  Many thanks Corinne x

Cindy Lane | July 11, 2014

Gilly, yes it’s been an eye opener just how brazen people can be! However, today ArtsLaw contacted me by telephone and I can expect to receive advice from a specialist lawyer soon.

I totally understand how you feel. Sometimes I get the “Why bother” feeling too. But it doesn’t last for long. Just a wander around outside and I get all inspired again.

Keep painting Gilly, you’re a fabulous artist and no one can take that away from you!

PS. The word verification below is “Horse”!!

Margaret Rees | September 01, 2014

Hello Gilly,
Last night in bed I re-read your article in the June edition of Australian Artist. I loved every word! I live on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria but grew up in Fremantle, all my family are in W.A. (We have a flock of black cockatoos with yellow tails in this area.)

About 7 years ago I started painting and it has been wonderful.  I paint in oils mainly animals & birds, lots of cows for which I have won several People’s Choice Awards. 

Thank you for your inspiration, I wish I could meet you as I feel we are of like mind but I will follow your website now with great interest.

Congratulations on your beautiful work.
Margaret Rees

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