Anne & Gordon Samstag
International Visual Arts Scholarships

The Samstag Scholarships were established in 1991 through the generous bequest of the late Gordon Samstag, an American artist who taught from 1961 to 1970 at the South Australian School of Art, now the School of Art, Architecture and Design, a part of the University of South Australia.

Gordon Samstag's will provided funds for awarding annual scholarships enabling Australian visual artists to study and develop their artistic capacities, skills and talents outside Australia. This remarkable gift ranks as one of the very great bequests to visual arts education in Australia.

Samstag Scholarships are administered by the University of South Australia through the Samstag Museum of Art, on behalf of Gordon Samstag's United States-based trustee, the Bank of America. 142 Samstag Scholarships have been awarded to date.

From 2020, each scholarship covers reasonable costs for twelve months overseas, institutional fees for one academic year of study (where applicable), a tax-exempt stipend of US $50,000, return airfares, personal travel and medical insurance.

2019 Samstag Scholars announced

The University of South Australia is pleased to announce
Elyas Alavi (SA) and Georgia Saxelby (NSW) as the recipients of the 2019 Samstag Scholarships!

Elyas Alavi is a cross-disciplinary artist and poet based in Adelaide. His multifaceted art practice is driven by ideas of social justice, memory, displacement and exile. Born in Afghanistan, Alavi lived for many years in Iran following an intensification of war in his homeland, arriving in Australia in 2007 as a refugee.

‘A lyrical poetic sensibility weaves throughout Elyas Alavi’s diverse practices’, writes Canberra-based curator and arts writer Virginia Rigney. ‘His works tantalise with suggestion in a transcultural dialogue that resists conventional boundaries of place and identity. Alavi may be safe in Australia now, but his work is conceptually unflinching.’

Georgia Saxelby is an interdisciplinary artist living and working between Sydney and the United States. Her participatory practice engages with issues of public social space, collective ritual behaviour and notions of sacred space in both ancient and contemporary cultures.

‘An urgent curiosity propels Georgia Saxelby to make art of our time.’ Rigney continues, ‘with the Samstag Scholarship, Saxelby plans to return to the United States and continue to study, research and make work of these extraordinary times’.

READ: Virginia Rigney (ACT) on Elyas Alavi and Georgia Saxelby

READ: Media Release

2018 Samstag Scholars

In 2018, Sasha Grbich (SA) and Julian Day (NSW) began their respective studies at Maumau, Portugal and Columbia University School of the Arts, New York.

READ: Andrew Purvis (SA) and Jenna McKenzie (SA) on our 2018 Samstag Scholars


2017 Samstag Scholars

Also in 2018, Zoe Kirkwood (SA) and Jacqueline Felstead (VIC) are completing their respective studies at the Glasgow School of Art, Scotland and Royal College of the Arts, England.

“The process of study in a challenging and engaging environment is always going to push your practice and allow you to make things you wouldn’t have necessarily thought you would or even could make.” — Zoe Kirkwood