In 1992, a small offering of Australian Aboriginal goods were sold in 100 square feet on East Davis Street in downtown Culpeper, Virginia under the name “Kungaku Arts”, the aboriginal Pitjantjatjara word for “women’s”. Since then the product selection has grown to represent over 80 countries, has moved and expanded five times on the same block, and is now home at The Cameleer at 125 East Davis Street.
The initial Australian crafts sold were carved wood lizards and dot painted pottery from Central Australia. Didgeridoos, authentic boomerangs and aboriginal paintings rounded out the collection. Over the years, some products have become less accessible due to the traditional craft not being embraced by the younger generation and the passing away of the older craftsmen and women. Aboriginal artists have come into their own over the years, their work now being recognized, respected and commanding well-deserved compensation.
The Cameleer has carried products from scores of countries over the years and the product mix is in constant flux with the ebb and flow of traditional craft. Not only do the products need to be produced, but craftsmen must also master the complexities of wrapping, packing, filing paperwork and navigating the red tape of exporting their goods to America.
We seek traditional craft from indigenous people, but are always on the lookout for contemporary products from these countries. After all, even Chilean potters must like a change from producing 3-legged good luck pigs and might look to other forms of clay expression.