• Port Adelaide is investigating claims its Indigenous guernsey was plagiarised. (Supplied. )Source: Supplied.
A South Australian Aboriginal artist claims her design was stolen and is now being used by the Port Adelaide Power for their Indigenous Round clash.
Douglas Smith

21 May 2021 - 12:51 PM  UPDATED 21 May 2021 - 12:54 PM

The Port Adelaide Football Club has begun an investigation into accusations it has used a stolen design for the team's Indigenous Round guernsey.

On Wednesday, the club unveiled the jumper, which it said was created by a student from the Aboriginal Power Cup, a program run by the club to engage young people in Aboriginal culture.

The winning entry came from a 17-year-old who won the annual art competition last year, but having the design printed on the guernsey was delayed due to COVID-19.

The teenager said she had been working on the design for months and that is was inspired by designs she saw on social media.

However, following the club's announcement, South Australian Aboriginal artist Elle Campbell posted on social media that the design was her "exact painting".

"Wow. This is MY painting, someone has submitted it as their own and PAFC are using it for their guernsey," Ms Campbell said on Instagram.

"Feeling pretty heartbroken that another Aboriginal woman has stolen my artwork that not only means so much to me but it also one of my first paintings. The most heartbreaking part is wanting my art to be seen on my own merit, not because something like this happening. That's now been taken away from me."

At a press conference on Wednesday, the student who won the design competition said the top half of her design represented “the ancestors, Dreamtime stories and people looking over us”.

However, Ms Campbell disputed her claims.

“The meaning behind this painting was of my families’ ancestral burial ground at Kingston S.E. and the connection we still have with the native flora and fauna on those lands," she said. 

“My mother had sent me a photo of some kangaroos coming out from the scrub to go have a dip in the water, which was the inspiration for this paining.”

Ms Campbell also posted pictures of her artwork being put on display at an exhibition in May 2019.

In another post, a friend of Ms Campbell's said the focus needed to be on the club's lack of due diligence and not on the teenager. 

"I'm obviously not excusing plagiarism and how serious stolen artwork is and the hurt that it has caused Elle Campbell," it read.

“But I’m also trying to give the young person the benefit of the doubt thinking maybe they didn’t understand the full repercussions of their actions.

“The internet can be a dark place for young people so I hope that it’s handled in a manner that is taken seriously, not lightly at all but appropriately for the safety of the young person involved too.”

An investigation has now been launched by the club into the design of its jumper.

"Port Adelaide is aware of allegations that surfaced on social media last night regarding the design of its Indigenous guernsey," the club said in a statement.

"The club is investigating the allegations and will not make further comment until it has all the information at hand."

The club has removed articles showing the design from its online shop.

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