Award Winners: Yhonnie Scarce - Art Collector

Issue 47, January - March 2009

This profile appeared in the "Award Winners" feature, part of the annual special issue "50 Things Collectors Need to Know 2009"

In naming Yhonnie Scarce’s win in the Qantas Foundation Encouragement of Australian Contemporary Art Awards as one of the most significant of 2008, writer and curator Timothy Morrell makes the point that “Australia has an awful lot of art prizes”. But what made the new prize a standout for Morrell was that “it’s specifically an encouragement award, not a tribute to an art star, and there’s one for each state and territory. The prize money for each winner, $20,000, isn’t huge, but it must make a massive difference to a barely established artist.” He says that the travel stipend provides the artists with “an invaluable opportunity…to learn, and to meet people who’ll be able to help them in the future.”

The prize provides a cash gift of $20,000 to an artist from each Australian state and territory as well as $10,000 worth of air travel, bringing the total prize pool to $240,000, making it the highest cash prize in Australia. This year the prize was judged by a panel of professionals from leading Australian museums, including Edmund Capon, retiring Director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Yhonnie Scarce is a South Australian artist whose specialisation is in the medium of glass. During her honours year she was awarded the Honours Scholarship for Indigenous Australian students and has since been a finalist in the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award and the Xstrata Coal Indigenous Emerging Artist prize.

For Morrell, Scarce “was a very good choice because she’s just at the crucial point in her career when the possibility of expanding her horizons could make a big difference. As a sculptor, she’s pulled the medium of glass right out of its crafty comfort zone and exploited its potential, perhaps for the first time in Australia, to be emotionally and politically expressive.”

Carrie Miller

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