Ms Yhonnie Scarce

Yhonnie Scarce
Photographer: Janelle Low.

Ms Yhonnie Scarce is a leading contemporary artist known for sculptural installations which span architecturally-scaled public art projects to intimately-scaled assemblages replete with personal and cultural histories. Ms Scarce is a master glass-blower, which she puts to the service of spectacular and spectral installations full of aesthetic, cultural and political significance. Her work also engages the photographic archive and found objects to explore the impact and legacies of colonial and family histories and memory.

Featuring a major new commission and drawing upon existing works over the past fifteen years, the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, and Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, are collaborating to present a major survey of her work.

Ms Scarce’s work often references the ongoing effects of colonisation on Aboriginal people. Her research has explored the impact of nuclear testing and 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 Ms Scarce’s work, drawing on the experience and strength of her ancestors, and sharing their significant stories from the past in the present. Her work also engages with the disciplinary forms of colonial institutions and representation – religion, ethnography, medical science, museology, taxonomy – as well as monumental and memorial forms of public art and remembrance. Her work is both autobiographical and ancestral, ensuring that her family are never forgotten or lost within the labyrinthine administration of the colonial archive.

Ms Scarce was born in Woomera, South Australia in 1973, and belongs to the Kokatha and Nukunu peoples. Recent international exhibitions include Pavilion of Contemporary Art, Milan, Italy 2019, and the Museum of London, Ontario, Canada 2019. Previous international shows include the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, India, 2018; Personal Structures, collateral exhibition, 55th Venice Biennale, 2013; Galway Art Centre, Ireland 2016; Harvard Art Museum, Massachusetts 2016; and Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Museum, Virginia, USA, 2012.

Recent Australian exhibitions include Looking Glass: Judy Watson and Yhonnie Scarce, Tarrawarra Museum of Art, Melbourne, 2020; A Lightness of Spirit is the Measure of Happiness, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne 2018; The National, Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney, 2017; The 3rd National Indigenous Art Triennial, National Gallery of Australia 2017; 19th Biennale of Sydney, 2014; and a site-specific installation at the Art Gallery of South Australia as part of Tarnanthi Festival of Contemporary and Torres Strait Islander Art, 2016.

Ms Scarce was recently the recipient with Edition Office architects of the prestigious National Gallery of Victoria Architecture Commission in 2019 which was awarded the Australian Institute of Architects Small Projects Award in 2020 and the Small Building of the Year in the Dezeen Awards.

Ms Scarce is currently a Lecturer at the Victorian College of the Arts in the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music of The University of Melbourne.

Ms Scarce has a Master of Fine Arts from Monash University.