GUESTS at the Hotel Eclipse in Domaslaw, Poland, may be surprised to learn that its cutting-edge interior design is based on work by an Aboriginal artist.
They may be even more surprised to discover that Bibi Barba, whose Desert Flowers series of paintings is copied in the hotel's geometric-patterned carpets, cafe tables and wall panels, did not give permission for her artwork to be used in this way.
She has not been paid by interior designer Ewa Smuga or the hotel, which opened in June 2012.
Smuga said she had ''redesigned'' Barba's paintings for her interior designs for the hotel. But Barba said she was ''gutted'' when she found pictures of the hotel on the internet featuring interiors that reproduced her Desert Flower paintings.
Barba told the hotel and Smuga she believed her copyright had been infringed and suggested a resolution involving an exhibition of her work at the hotel. The hotel did not respond.
She has sought legal advice and written to the World Intellectual Property Organisation about the alleged copyright infringement. She wants financial compensation from the interior designer and hotel, and to show that artists can fight for their rights.
But in an email to the Copyright Agency, which collects royalties for artists, Smuga denied plagiarising Barba's work.
''My inspiration does not have regard to material benefits and I only wish [to] spread Australian culture among Europeans,'' she said.
''I haven't copied her work. I redesigned it so that it was an emotional reference to Australian art.''
Smuga said she had acknowledged Barba as the ''inspiration'' for her designs and planned to promote her work in Poland. She also claimed Barba's artwork was ''generally known'' and available on the internet.
Barba's Desert Flowers is a series of six acrylics on silk painted in 2009 while the artist was going though a divorce. The paintings were sold to private collectors for $3000 to $5000.
Barba's website has, in the past, referred to the Hotel Eclipse, but she said she had never given permission for her artwork to be used to decorate its interiors.
''I guess the viewpoint she had was I'm in the desert in Australia - I'm not going to find out, I have no access to a computer,'' Barba said.
The chief executive of the Indigenous Art Code, John Oster, said information produced by Barba indicated there had been a breach of copyright by the interior designer.
The executive director of the Arts Law Centre, Robyn Ayres, said the vital and important parts of Barba's artworks had been reproduced by Smuga.
''In my opinion this constitutes an unlawful reproduction of the work under Australian copyright laws,'' she said. ''If a court was to compare Bibi Barba's paintings with the carpets in the Polish hotel, the striking similarity would be apparent.''
Ayres said copyright laws applied to works that were available on the internet.
Smuga's acknowledgement of Barba was not a defence to using her artworks without permission.
Poland is a signatory to an international convention dealing with copyright and has copyright laws.
In an email to Fairfax Media, Smuga said she had not breached any of Barba's rights and denied the artist's allegations.
The Hotel Eclipse has not responded to questions sent by Fairfax Media.