• Yhonnie Scarce. (Tiffany Garvie.)Source: Tiffany Garvie.
Kokotha and Nukunu glass blower Yhonnie Scarce has received the $60,000 Yalingwa Fellowship in recognition of her work as an artist, as well as a teacher and mentor to other First Nations artists.
Keira Jenkins

11 Feb 2020 - 5:26 PM  UPDATED 11 Feb 2020 - 8:08 PM

Kokotha and Nukunu artist Yhonnie Scarce has been awarded the Yalingwa Fellowship - a $60,000 prize for a First Nations artist working in south-east Australia.

Ms Scarce, a glass blower, who lives and works in Melbourne said told NITV News she couldn't believe she'd won.

"I'm still pinching myself," she said.

"For me to win, it's a huge honour. It's a privilege to be part of something like this, to be acknowledged like this. 

"I didn't see it coming."


Ms Scarce said she fell in love with glass blowing at art school, now a master of the art of glass blowing she creates work exploring the ongoing effects of colonisation on Indigenous people.

"I often create bushfoods, they're quite small objects but I do them on a large-scale - I make lots of them - and make them into installations," she said.

"For Aboriginal people these things are something that are quite important. It's almost an extension of self. They represent our stories and Aboriginal bodies.

"One of my installations is a memorial to the Aboriginal people who are victims of genocide. A lot of my work, it relates to colonisation and I see it as documenting the history of what happened to us."

The fellowship is a partnership between Creative Victoria, the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) and TarraWarra Museum of Art.

TarraWarra Museum of Art director Victoria Lynn said Ms Scarce has made an 'outstanding' contribution to the arts, and the win is recognition of that.

"She explores the political nature and aesthetic qualities of glass in her installations," she said.

"She interrogates history - she's from Woomera - and the ways her country was poisoned, with what happened at Maralinga, which is close by.

"She's already made an outstanding contribution to the arts world but this is an opportunity to go to new heights."

Ms Scarce said she's honoured to be the second winner of the annual Yalingwa Fellowship and to be part of something that celebrates the work of Indigenous artists.

"We work hard and do our work without much money or support," she said.

"This is a great initiative that celebrates mob who live and work in Victoria. It's special to me that I'm the second recipient after last year's winner Destiny Deacon.

"Destiny is a mentor of mine. She's an amazing black woman, to be the recipient after her, I can't believe it."

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