Yul Scarf | Schenberg Art Fellowship 2021 recipient

Congratulations to National Art School graduate Yul Scarf (Bachelor of Fine Arts), recipient of the $50,000 Schenberg Art Fellowship for their works HomeBuilder Scheme (new build or renovate) (2020), This Remains 100% Aboriginal Land (2020), and COLONIAL VIRUS (2020).

Hatched artist Yul Scarf with their work 2020: Still Digesting, 2020, and Homebuilder Scheme: Rebuild or Renovate, 2020. Hatched: National Graduate Show 2021, Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA), 2021. Photograph: Bo Wong

This is the 12th year that the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA) has worked with the University of Western Australia (UWA) and the UWA Cultural Precinct to present the Schenberg Art Fellowship, the most significant award for emerging artists in Australia. Each year a recipient is chosen from PICA’s ‘Hatched: National Graduate Show’, which this year showcases the work of 24 of the most promising artists from Australia’s leading art schools and universities from every state and territory in Australia; displaying a broad range of contemporary practice including installations, audio/sound works, photography, sculpture, ceramics, textiles and media works, at PICA until 11 July 2021.

‘Being the recipient of this year’s Schenberg Art Fellowship is a really big honour and responsibility. I hope to use the money to help “pay the rent” for being a settler that benefits from living on stolen land and to account for all the ways that my practice is collaborative.’ — Yul Scarf.

Scarf is a multi-disciplinary artist motivated by radical political change who uses their practice to materialise queer politics, solidarity and humour and often works collaboratively to develop their themes and imagery. Scarf interrogates the role of clay in processes of colonisation through the medium of ceramics, allowing unceded earth, remnants of the early colony and contemporary culture to blur. In the space between the precarity and fixedness of ceramics, deeper truths about settler-colonial Australia materialise. Referencing the Morrison government’s 2020 economic stimulus program, HomeBuilder Scheme (rebuild or renovate) is a monument that declares its own instability. On top of a bed of 200-million-year-old Sydney, sandstone sits a hastily constructed tower of colonial bricks. 2020 (Still Digesting) is a series of plates decorated with QR codes that link viewers to artworks and articles resisting monumental racism. The back of each plate echoes the property mark of milk and beer bottles to state, ‘This Remains 100% Aboriginal Land’, speaking both to the clay of the plate and to the continent more broadly.

Yul Scarf, HomeBuilder Scheme (new build or renovate), 2020. Photograph: Peter Morgan

‘Yul’s multi-dimensional work draws clever links between history, contemporary culture and activism in a way that encourages us to question the past and re-imagine our future. Through an expanded use of ceramics, installation and QR codes, the artist takes us on a compelling journey through time and space. The roles of clay and commemoration in Australian colonialism are explored and offered as powerful metaphors, all with gentle humour, intelligence and a sense of solidarity.’ — ‘Hatched’ 2021 judges: Amy Barrett-Lennard, PICA Director, Sally Quin, UWA Art Collection Curator, and Patrice Sharkey, ACE Open Artistic Director.

The judges also remarked at the high calibre of works in the 2021 exhibition and highly commended University of Tasmania graduate Hannah Foley (Bachelor of Fine Arts) for her work Breathing Backwards (2020) and Curtin University graduate Bradley Kickett (Bachelor of Arts, Fine Art) for his video piece Boundary Road (2020).