6 Feb 2023

Maree Clarke awarded $60,000 Yalingwa Fellowship

Mutti Mutti, Wamba Wamba, Yorta Yorta and Boonwurrung woman Maree Clarke has been awarded the prestigious Yalingwa Fellowship, a $60,000 award for a Senior First Nations artist currently living and working in Victoria who has made an outstanding contribution to creative practice in the First Peoples arts community and are at a critical moment in their career.

Announced today by Minister for Creative Industries Steve Dimopoulos, the Fellowship is part of the Yalingwa program, a collaboration between Creative Victoria, ACCA and TarraWarra Museum of Art designed to support the development of outstanding contemporary Indigenous art and curatorial practice.

Following an open call for submissions, Maree was awarded the Fellowship by the Yalingwa Directions Circle, a panel that includes members of the Indigenous arts and wider community, as well as representatives from Creative Victoria, ACCA and TarraWarra Museum of Art.

In making their decision, the Directions Circle noted Maree’s exemplary contribution to arts, culture and Indigenous curatorial practice in the South East particularly, as well as her reclamation and innovation of cultural practice, and the role she has played as a teacher, curator and mentor.

“Our unanimous decision to award Maree this Fellowship recognizes not only her stellar career as a groundbreaking artist working nationally and internationally, but also the inspirational role she has played in her 35-year career for emerging artists and curators, and her sustained impact on community through mentoring and collaboration,” the panel noted.

Minister for Creative Industries Steve Dimopoulos said: “The Yalingwa initiative is one of the ways we are working to develop and promote First Peoples leadership in the creative industries, and back the careers of First Peoples artists and arts workers.

“Maree Clarke is one of our most respected and important artists and a well-deserved recipient of this Fellowship. I hope this opportunity enables her to reach even greater heights and introduces her work to a wider audience.”

Maree is the third recipient of the Yalingwa Fellowship. The inaugural prize went to Melbourne-based artist Destiny Deacon from the Kuku, East Cape region and Torres Strait, and the second to Kokatha and Nukunu woman Yhonnie Scarce.

Maree Clarke said: “I am honoured to accept this award, and to have my name included alongside respected former Fellowship recipients Yhonnie Scarce and Destiny Deacon. This is an incredible gift, which will allow me to focus on long term projects and conduct further research in the UK that will inform my new body of work. I would like to thank the Minister Dimopoulos, Creative Victoria, ACCA and TarraWarra for creating this visionary program. I am passionate about arts and culture in the Southeast, and I want to recognise how important the investment of the Yalingwa arts initiative is in nurturing, promoting and making visible arts and culture here in Victoria.”

Based in Naarm/Melbourne, Maree grew up in Northwest Victoria, and is a pivotal figure in the reclamation of southeast Australian First People’s art practices, revitalising the creation of traditional possum skin cloaks, kangaroo teeth and river reed necklaces.  In 2021 she was the subject of a major survey exhibition Maree Clarke – Ancestral Memories  at the National Gallery of Victoria and other recent exhibitions include Tarnanthi, Art Gallery of South Australia (2021), and the National at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2021).

Established in 2017, Yalingwa is a multi-year program which, in addition to the Fellowships, also includes curatorial positions for First People’s curators to work with host organisations in the development of a major exhibition.

The current Yalingwa Curator, Palawa woman Jessica Clark, will deliver the third Yaligwa exhibition at ACCA in July. Titled Between Waves, the exhibition will also include a new work by Maree Clarke, and new commissions by artists Dean Cross, Brad Darkson, Matthew Harris, James Howard, Hayley Millar Baker, Jazz Money, Cassie Sullivan and Mandy Quadrio that explore and experiment with the visible and invisible energy fields and flows of light, time, and vision.