Ramsay Art Prize (2017)

Famed as the nation’s richest award for young contemporary artists, the Ramsay Art Prize opens its inaugural year with a major exhibition at the Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA).

Building upon the success of the Adelaide Biennial, the Prize is designed to support young and emerging talent by providing a life-changing opportunity.

‘It’s an important legacy project that we hope will build confidence in Australian art, foster young talent and change the way young artists are valued in the canon of contemporary art,’ said AGSA Director, Nick Mitzevich.

Audiences have been captivated by the diverse set of works from the 21 finalists who were chosen by this year’s judging panel of contemporary art specialists. This included Director of the Auckland Art Gallery, Rhana Davenport, Curator of Contemporary Art, Leigh Robb and Sydney-based artist, Nell.

An underlying theme captured in the exhibit is ‘lived experience’ as every piece articulates what it means to exist in modern-day Australia, as a young person.

The first recipient of the $100,000 Ramsay Art Prize was Perth-born, Sydney-based artist, Sarah Contos.

Her winning piece, Sarah Contos Presents: The Long Kiss Goodbye, will be permanently acquired into the Art Gallery’s collection.

‘I didn’t think I was going to win…I’m so grateful,’ said Contos in her humbling and emotional acceptance speech.

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Sarah Contos alongside ‘Sarah Contos Presents: The Long Kiss Goodbye,’ Ramsay Art Prize Winner Announcement/Media Preview, photographed by Tanner Muller, 26 May 2017
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Sarah Contos, Australia, born 1978, ‘Sarah Contos Presents: The Long Kiss Goodbye,’ 2016, photograohed by Tanner Muller, 26 May 2017.

The artwork employs remnants of her practice over the past few years, and are intended to be a reflective time capsule of her career. The series of screen prints and materials across the gigantic guilt also makes reference to eroticism, popular culture and art history.

Accompanying the Prize is the $15,000 Lipman Karas People’s Choice Award, which has been an ongoing component to the exhibition.

Mitzevich says he expects this will reduce the divide between audience member and artist.

‘It gives people the license to have an opinion and foster a culture of armchair spectatorship, where even those who rarely comment on art have something to say,’ said Mitzevich.

Among the more popular artworks is Tony Albert’s Exotica (Mid Century Modern). It presents a collection of bright and intricately detailed designs. His personal connection to Indigenous Australian heritage is represented through imagery that is sometimes covered or included alongside pop culture references and floral creations. Perhaps the main focal point of the piece are the series of ashtrays filled with cigarette butts.

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Tony Albert, Australia, born 1981, Girramay, Kuku Yalandji people, Queensland, Exotica( Mid Century Modern), 2016, photographed by Tanner Muller, 26 May 2017.

Another standout is Natalya Hughes’ Olympia. This vibrant, yet technical approach invites audience members into a world of triangular shapes. With a direct focus on the female body, she seems to have maligned the limits of society by drastically altering its conventions.

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Natalya Hughes, Australia, born 1977, Olympia, 2016, photographed by Tanner Muller, 26 May 2017.

The Ramsay Art Prize is financed in perpetuity through the James and Diana Ramsay Foundation. Their generous donations to the Art Gallery of South Australia, and other arts organisations, over the years amount to almost 20 million.

Entries for the 2019 Ramsay Art Prize will open September 2018. Mitzevich offers some advice to those who are considering to submit an application next year.

‘Present your most ambitious work that defines who you are as an artist. We’re looking for excellence and a confident individual approach to art-making in the 21st century,’ says Mitzevich.

Stay updated about key dates and important announcements by subscribing to their emailing list, which can be found via their website: ramsay.artgallery.sa.gov.au. 

Key dates
27 May – 27 August 2017      Ramsay Art Prize exhibition
27 May – 6 August 2017        People’s Choice Prize voting open
11 August 2017                       People’s Choice Prize winner announced

Event
The Ramsay Art Prize
Galleries 8–11
Art Gallery of South Australia
North Terrance, Adelaide SA 5000
Telephone: (08) 8207 7000
27 May – 27 August 2017
Free admission

Faces of the World by Dianne Vanstone (2017)

Presented at the ASSP Gallery, in association with the 2017 Adelaide Fringe from 17th February – 19thMarch.

Nestled in the heart of Port Adelaide, owner Sue Smith wholeheartedly welcomed her audience to the rather petite, though nevertheless beloved ASSP Gallery to view Dianne Vanstone’s latest exhibition, Faces of the World.

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ASSP Gallery, ‘Faces of the World’ exhibition (2017), photographed by Tanner Muller

Suspended by hooks and thread across the gallery walls were a collection of oil paintings, depicting the intriguing narratives of both humans and animals. Each piece of art is united by their ability to convey cultural stories through facial expression. Vanstone, 64, uses her artistic abilities to create awareness by providing a voice to those who cannot express it.

She claims to have been inspired by the naivety of children and the matured intelligence of the elderly. This is particularly evident through the visually striking piece Wisdom, where splashes of colour surround the face of a matured Asian man. The vibrant approach generates an air of mystery, as viewers are left to ponder about his existence and intellect.

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‘Wisdom’ by Dianne Vanstone (2017), ASSP Gallery, photographed by Tanner Muller

A rather emotive piece in the collection, entitled Stillness, portrays a giraffe hunching its body, with eyes of despair. The use of dark browns and pastel blues throughout the piece are intended, it seems, to illustrate the vulnerability of the animal before a tragic and untimely passing.

This is reminiscent of the Copenhagen Zoo controversy, where a young male giraffe was shot and dissected in front of a large crowd after it was deemed to be genetically unsuitable for breeding. This was despite offers from other zoos to rehouse the giraffe and public outcry.

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‘Stillness’ by Dianne Vanstone (2017), ASSP Gallery, photographed by Tanner Muller

Besides oil painting, Vanstone also works as a children’s author/illustrator and a self-employed art tutor. So, it becomes evident how utilising her skills to broaden the scope of opportunity was significant in her success of becoming an established and recognised artist.

Associating herself with the ASSP Gallery and the 2017 Adelaide Fringe, Vanstone was able to use these platforms as an outlet to showcase her works to a wider audience.

Both the gallery and the Fringe welcome emerging and established artists alike to showcase their talents, or volunteer their time to offer support and gain experience.

To arrange an appointment with the ASSP Gallery to show your portfolio, or to volunteer, contact them by telephone at (08) 8240 2686 during business hours, or by email assp.galleryshop@gmail.com

Registrations for the 2018 Adelaide Fringe will open in August 2017. Artists will be able to apply via the Adelaide Fringe website.

To submit an application to volunteer for the Adelaide Fringe, applications open in November 2017 via their website.