Sasha Grbich wins 2018 Anne & Gordon Samstag International Visual Arts Scholarship

The University of South Australia has announced the recipients of the prestigious 2018 Anne & Gordon Samstag International Visual Arts Scholarships: Sasha Grbich from South Australia, and Julian Day from NSW. 

The scholarships provide each artist with a 12-month living allowance of USD $48,000, as well as travel expenses and study fees at a leading international art school of their choice. 

Sasha Grbich’s art combines sculpture, sound and video installations. An avid collector of strange ‘things,' found footage, sounds and stories, she is fascinated by the ways that art interacts with everyday life. 

Grbich currently lectures installation, video and performance at the Adelaide Central School of Art, from where she graduated in 2003. In 2015, Grbich completed her Masters by Research at the University of South Australia. 

Adelaide based artist, writer and curator, Andrew Purvis says Grbich’s work is deeply attuned to the subtle rhythms and background hums of the real world.

“Through live art actions, relational situations and video documentation, Grbich employs a process of sensitive and attentive listening to open up a space in which difficult or seemingly impossible conversations can occur," Purvis says.

Julian Day is an artist, composer, writer and broadcaster whose work centres on sound. He holds a Master of Fine Arts from the Sydney College of the Arts and an Honours Music degree from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music.

Through performance, installation, sculpture, video, text and recorded audio, Day treats sound as an essential means of examining the world. 

“My work deploys sound’s material properties - its promiscuous spread, its relational intimacy - to reveal and examine hidden or overt power relations,” Day says. 

Art writer, Jenna McKenzie explains that sound provides an alternate mode of engagement. 

“Day uses sound to dissolve the usual boundaries of property and personal space. He experiments with the perimeters of a self-referential system through inversion, inclusion and disruption," McKenzie says.

This year’s selection committee comprised Professor Simon Biggs from the South Australian School of Art, Christian Lock from UniSA’s School of Art, Architecture and Design, and Angela Valamanesh, an internationally exhibited artist and former recipient of a Samstag Scholarship. 

Professor Biggs said there was a high quality of applicants this year, but the successful two were especially strong. 

“Sasha Grbich’s work engages with the everyday, bringing together the quotidian as an expanded assemblage of the world around us,” he says. 

“Julian Day impressed with experimental works that explore the space between visual and sonic art, surreal in their combination of elements and their odd logic.” 

Now in its 26th year, the Samstag Scholarship program has awarded up to 140 scholarships, with a total value exceeding USD $10 million. 

Director of the Samstag Museum of Art, Erica Green says the scholarship has provided unprecedented opportunities for Australian artists to develop their practice. 

“The 2017 scholars, Jacqueline Felstead and Zoe Kirkwood, are now commencing studies at the Royal College of Art and the Glasgow School of Art respectively. 

“Both have exciting and enviable experiences ahead of them.” 

Further information and examples of Grbich and Day’s work can be found on the Samstag Scholarship website. 

Samstag Scholarships are awarded by the University of South Australia on behalf of the estate of Gordon Samstag, the celebrated American artist who taught at the South Australian School of Art in the 1960s.

 image attribution:
(1) installation shot of video stills from Wind Work (Windy Point) 2016, 2 channel video installation with sound, 7 mins looped, exhibited at Adelaide Central Gallery in 2017.
(2) Sasha Grbich in her studio 2017.
(3) Sasha Grbich with her artwork featured in Wind Work (Windy Point) 2016.