Historical information

Yhonnie SCARCE (1973- ) Born Woomera, South Australia Language group: Kokatha, Southern desert region and Nukunu, Spencer region Yhonnie Scarce works predominantly in glass. She majored in glass withing a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Honours) course at the South Australian School of Art, Adelaide, and holds a Master of Fine Arts from Monash University. One of the first contemporary Australian artists to explore the political and aesthetic power of glass, Scarce describes her work as ‘politically motivated and emotionally driven’. Scarce’s work often references the on-going effects of colonisation on Aboriginal people, In particular her research focus 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. (https://thisisnofantasy.com/artist/yhonnie-scarce/, accessed 10 September 2018)

Physical description

Artist's Statement 'The More Bones the Better', 2016 Yhonnie Scarce was born in Woomera, SA and belongs to the Kokatha and Nukunu peoples. Scarce embraces a non traditional approach to glass blowing using glass as more than a mere material, acting as a lens and a mirror, Scarce reflects and exposes the tragedies of Australia’s colonisation. She applies the technical rigours of traditional glass blowing techniques in an innovative and unconventional manner. In particular Scarce uses glass to explore the lives and histories of Aboriginal Australians. Hand blown glass is shaped, engraved, painted and smashed to create indigenous fruits and vegetables such as bush bananas, bush plums and long yams symbolic of her peoples culture and traditions. With their elongated, torso-like shapes, they even evoke human bodies. Akin to a gatherer of bush food Scarce creates glass-gatherings of the persecuted. The repetition of brittle ambiguous bodies collected for experimentation and examination conjures the relentless impact of colonisation and the litany of abuses suffered by Aboriginal people. Within her research Scarce encountered a variety of ethnographic studies examining the use of scientific interventions amongst Indigenous cultures. These include Government sanctioned illegal drug testing of children in orphanages and other dubious medical practices amongst indigenous prison inmates. This work metaphorically looks at these situations and poses questions of what might have gone on in such a laboratory. The judge of the 2017 Guirguis New Art Prize (GNAP), Simon Maidment, Senior Curator, Contemporary Art, National Gallery of Victoria said; “The winning work by Yhonnie Scarce captures the sensitivity to materials she displays throughout her artistic practice. The blown and shattered glass elements are a delicate contrast to the shocking and little discussed histories of Aboriginal exploitation and abuse in the name of science in Australia. Engaging this topic, this work is haunting, in the same way those lived and documented experiences continue to haunt the collective unconscious of this country. Yhonnie Scarce’s work, The More Bones the Better 2016, I believe makes an important contribution to the Collection of Federation University Australia and will engage and move diverse audiences with its technical accomplishment, beauty and message. Yhonnie Scarce was born in Woomera SA and belongs to the Kokatha and Nukunu peoples. Scarce embraces a non-traditional approach to glass blowing using her medium as more than a mere material. Applying the technical rigours of traditional glass blowing in an innovative and unconventional manner, Scarce’s glass objects act as a lens and a mirror to reflect and expose the tragedies of Australia’s colonisation and, in particular, explore the lives and histories of Aboriginal Australians. Hand-blown glass is shaped, engraved, painted and smashed to represent indigenous fruits and vegetables such as bush bananas, bush plums and long yams, symbolic of Scarce’s people’s culture and traditions. While these elongated shapes on the one hand represent fruit and vegetables, gathered and grouped as in the gathering of bush food, Scarce’s torso-like bodies and forms are glass ‘gatherings’ representative of the gathering of people. Here, the many brittle bodies act as a metaphor for the collection, experimentation and examinations undertaken by government authorities on Aboriginal communities researched by Scarce. Exposing a variety of ethnographic studies, examining the use of scientific interventions on Indigenous cultures, Scarce also revealed Government sanctioned illegal drug testing of children in orphanages and other dubious medical practices undertaken on indigenous prison inmates. Scarce’s gatherings also reflect the impact of colonisation and the relentless conjuring and litany of abuses suffered by Aboriginal people. The More Bones the Better metaphorically looks at these situations and poses questions of what was undertaken and investigated in these laboratories.