Kokatha and Nukunu woman Yhonnie Scarce, a renowned contemporary artist, has been awarded the Yalingwa Fellowship, a $60,000 award for First Nations artists currently living and working in Victoria who have made an outstanding contribution to creative practice in the First Peoples arts community and are at a critical moment in their career.
The Fellowship forms part of Yalingwa, a multi-faceted initiative designed to support the development of outstanding contemporary Indigenous art and curatorial practice with a primary focus on South East Australian First Nations artists. It represents a significant partnership between Creative Victoria, the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) and TarraWarra Museum of Art.
Following an open call for submissions, Scarce was awarded the Fellowship by the Yalingwa Advisory Group, which includes members of the Indigenous arts and wider community as well as representatives from Creative Victoria, ACCA and TarraWarra Museum of Art.
The Advisory Group noted the breadth of the artist’s contributions to Australian art.
“Yhonnie Scarce has made a critical contribution to the development of contemporary art practice locally, nationally and internationally through major public installations, exhibitions and her mentorship of other Indigenous artists. Her work encompasses architecturally-scaled public art projects to intimate assemblages, replete with personal and cultural histories, in ways which are at once autobiographical and ancestral.
The Yalingwa Advisory Group recognises Yhonnie’s enormous contribution to the First Nations arts community as an artist, mentor and teacher, and her unique approach to the use of glass blowing in her practice. The panel highlighted Yhonnie’s courageous, politically driven yet deeply personal story telling as highly significant, particularly the innovative ways in which she addresses some of the turbulent and rarely discussed sides of our history,” said the Yalingwa Advisory Group.
Scarce’s practice explores the political nature and aesthetic qualities of glass, using her body and breath to create anthropomorphic objects imbued with Aboriginal culture and history. Her work often references the ongoing effects of colonisation on Aboriginal people; in particular, her research has explored the impact of the removal and relocation of Aboriginal people from their homelands and the forcible removal of Aboriginal children from their families. Family history is central to Scarce’s work and, drawing on the strength of her ancestors, she offers herself as a conduit, sharing their significant stories from the past.
Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley, said, “This Fellowship recognises Yhonnie’s incredible works and career so far and her ongoing leadership in upskilling the next generation of First Nations artists.”
“The Victorian Government is proud to support Yalingwa as part of our ongoing commitment to putting First Nations’ art and creativity at the heart of our creative state.”
Victoria Lynn, Director, TarraWarra Museum of Art, said Yhonnie is an incredibly deserving recipient of this prestigious award.
“The Yalingwa Fellowship will allow Yhonnie to enter into a new phase of research and will provide the support to develop and expand her immense creative vision.
TarraWarra Museum of Art is delighted to work with Creative Victoria and ACCA to showcase the incredible First Nations art community of Victoria through the Yalingwa initiative, which will also see a major exhibition of First Peoples art open at the Museum in 2021, curated by Stacie Piper,” Ms Lynn said.
Image: Yalingwa Fellowship recipient Yhonnie Scarce at the announcement of the 2020 Yalingwa Fellowship at TarraWarra Museum of Art, 11 February 2020. Photo: Tiffany Garvie.