South Australian AFL club Port Adelaide is currently in a bit of hot water after an Indigenous artist claimed the club’s jumper has ripped off her work, prompting an investigation into the whole clusterfuck.
After the club unveiled its playing jumper design for this year’s annual Sir Doug Nicholls round, proud Tanganekald, Meintangk and Boandik woman and South Australian-based artist Elle Campbell took to her Instagram to claim the artwork wasn’t just similar to a piece she produced in 2019 – it was exactly the same.
“This is MY painting,” Elle wrote on her Instagram story on Thursday night.
“Someone has submitted it as their own and PAFC are using it for their guernsey.”
She then posted a photo of herself with her original artwork, which she produced in 2019 and displayed in an exhibition for SA Health in southern Adelaide.
The design was apparently chosen by Port Adelaide, following a high school competition where students were encouraged to submit designs to be used on this year’s match kit and merchandise. The winning entry was from a local 17-year-old student, who said she found inspiration in designs she had seen on social media.
Elle said the allegedly copied design has deep personal connection with her, as the painting is about her family’s ancestral burial ground at Kingston SE, on the state’s south-east coast.
Following her claims, Elle also shared a post from a friend, who said that the situation “should be dealt with justly and professionally”, and that the bulk of the pressure should be placed on the Port Adelaide club to make amends.
Elle agreed that the young student who submitted the work may have done it without considering potential plagiarism, and that the whole situation is “handled in a manner that is taken seriously, not lightly at all but appropriately for the safety of the young person involved too.”
The ABC reports that a statement from Port Adelaide on Friday morning said the club was currently investigating the matter, and “will not make further comment until it has all the information at hand.”
PEDESTRIAN.TV reached out to the Port Adelaide Football Club for further comment, and the club released a statement on Friday afternoon confirming the design was originally created by Elle, and not the student who submitted it to the high school design competition.
“Port Adelaide can now confirm the artwork on the guernsey was originally designed by Aboriginal artist Elle Campbell for a 2019 exhibition at Flinders Medical Centre to celebrate NAIDOC week,” the statement read.
“The club met with Ms Campbell this morning who stressed that she wanted the club to wear the design as part of the upcoming Sir Doug Nicholls Round.”
— Port Adelaide FC (@PAFC) May 21, 2021
Elle also made a statement alongside the club, noting that Port had handled the situation well, and that she’s happy she’ll now receive the correct recognition for her work. She also stressed that she doesn’t want the student to be hassled by fans and critics, as she has owned up to her mistake.
“One thing that I want to stress is that I don’t want people to hassle the student,” Elle said.
“She’s young, she’s made a mistake and owned it, and I know what social media culture can be like. I ask people to consider her feelings because there’s certainly no ill feeling from me and I just want her to work through this situation with her family.”
The football club has also confirmed that it has also provided support services to the student and her family, and will continue to support her as the news rolls out.
“Ms Campbell has been outstanding throughout this whole process and we thank her for her understanding. It’s a mark of her character that one of her first concerns was the welfare of the student,” the Club’s statement read.
“We have provided support resources for the student and her family and will continue to support her moving forward. She made a mistake and acknowledged it, so now we ask others to respect her privacy.”
Elle also suggested to the club that all proceeds from sales of merch and guernseys with her design on them be invested into the club’s Aboriginal programs.