Expand your horizons with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for visual artists

The generous Samstag Scholarship gives you a ‘golden passport’ to live and study overseas.

A Samstag Scholarship really is a life-changing experience. Covering the institutional fees for an academic year of study at a leading international art school of your choice, the scholarship comes with a tax-free stipend of AU $70,000 plus all travel expenses and  insurances. 

‘The Samstag Scholarships are described as “golden passports” because they provide a truly remarkable , opportunity for Australian artists,’ said Erica Green, director of the Samstag Museum of Art in Adelaide. 

‘The Scholarships do not require an outcome other than the recipient is based within an institution and undertaking a program of study.  And the program of study is very flexible and broadly defined.’

Established in 1992, the Samstag Scholarships are designed to enable Australian artists to develop their artistic skills and expand their horizons through a dedicated period of practice-based learning overseas. They are funded through a bequest from the late Gordon Samstag, a celebrated American artist who taught from 1961 to 1970 at the South Australian School of Art, now a part of the University of South Australia where the Samstag Museum of Art is based. This remarkable gift ranks as one of the great bequests to visual arts education in Australia.

Notable Samstag Scholarship alumni include artists Nike Savvas, Shaun Gladwell, Madison Bycroft, Alex Martinis Roe, James Nguyen, Archie Moore, Julie Gough, Georgia Saxelby, Corderio/Healy, Simone Slee and Tim Horn.  To date, 148 Samstag Scholarships have been awarded. You can catch up with some of them on Instagram.

Recipients have studied at prestigious arts institutions across the globe including the Royal Institute of Art, Sweden; Academy of Fine Arts, Czech Public, Glasgow School of Art; Goldsmiths, University of London; Universitat der Kunst, Berlin; and the Parsons New School of Design, New York.

‘Applicants nominate where they would like to study. This provides them with a base where they can immerse themselves in the culture of the place and allows them to form important and lasting life and professional connections,’ said Green.

The application process is not as daunting as you might think given the size of the scholarship.

‘It’s a very straightforward application process,’ Green explained. ‘Applicants are required to provide a statement about their proposed program of study along with up to ten images of their work. The selection committee views the visual documentation before anything else, so having high quality, compelling images is essential for a successful outcome.’

Each year, a three-person selection committee assess the applications.  The committee comprises the Head or Professor of Art at the South Australian School of Art, currently Professor Simon Biggs, along with a practice-based senior lecturer from the School of Art and a nationally recognised exhibiting artist.

There are at least two scholarships on offer for 2023 with one of those to go to a South Australian artist, in line with Gordon Samstag’s intentions when he made the bequest. The 2023 scholarship applications close on 30 June 2022. Full details, including new eligibility guidelines, are available on the Samstag website.

Winning a prestigious Samstag Scholarship is not only about the cultural experiences and the artworks recipients produce.

‘We have a number of Samstag marriages and some Samstag babies,’ said Green proudly.  ‘Tasmanian artist Meg Walch met her partner while on her Samstag Scholarship and they now have a son, Felix. Artist and writer Elvis Richardson’s partner is fellow Samstag scholar Mark Hislop. And artist Tim Horn met his partner while undertaking his scholarship and now lives and works in Truro, Massachusetts.’

A Samstag Scholarship really can be life-changing, in so many different ways.

Applications for the 2023 Anne & Gordon Samstag International Visual Arts Scholarship open on 1 March 2022 and close on 30 June 2022. Learn more about how to apply.

Dr Diana Carroll is a writer, speaker, and reviewer based in Adelaide. Her work has been published in newspapers and magazines including the Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, Woman's Day, and B&T. Writing about the arts is one of her great passions.