The Ramsay Art Prize is one of Australia’s most prestigious, and lucrative, contemporary art prizes. Meet the 2019 crop of finalists.
Presented by the Art Gallery of South Australia and supported by the James & Diana Ramsay Foundation, the biennial prize seeks to celebrate new work across any medium, with the winning work acquired by the Art Gallery of South Australia and its creator awarded $100,000. The Ramsay Art Prize’s first cycle in 2017 saw Sydney via Perth artist Sarah Contos recognised for her work The Long Kiss Goodbye, a colourful piece of textile art dubbed a “21st century quilt”.
This year’s shortlist includes artists from New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australian and Queensland, along with three South Australian artists in Vincent Namatjira (also a 2017 finalist), Sera Waters and Pierre Mukeba. Working out of the APY Lands community of Indulkana, Namatjira has won international acclaim for his colourful and idiosyncratic work which riffs on themes of colonialism, politics and popular culture. His Ramsay Art Prize entry, Close Contact is a hand-painted, life-sized plywood figure.
Waters’ entry, a large-scale wool fabrication Falling Line By Line, builds on her Domestic Arts series of exhibitions that has explored themes of homemaking and her own ancestral history through textile art. Raised in the Democratic Republic of Congo and based in South Australia for the past decade, Mukeba’s Ride to church is a potent example of his vivid and deeply personal painting style, which offers an affecting insight into his own diasporic experience.
Other notable names include Western Australia’s Tarryn Gill, whose Guardians is currently showing at the Art Galley of South Australia, Melbourne artist Emily Ferretti’s colourful 21-panel Shifting Landscapes and Julia Deville, whose colourful work Mother is my Monarch is likely to provoke discussion with its inclusion of a taxidermied baby giraffe. These final 23 artists were selected from a pool of 350 entries, with the winner to be selected by an international panel of judges. In addition to the main prize, a Peoples’ Choice Prize carries a price tag of $15,000.
“We are thrilled to present the second iteration of the important Ramsay Art Prize,” Art Gallery of South Australia director Rhan Devenport says. “This year’s finalists are testament to the energetic pulse of contemporary Australian art, and we are excited to celebrate the vision and ingenuity of artists from across the country at AGSA.”
The 2019 Ramsay Art Prize winner will be announced on Friday, May 24, with all finalists to be exhibited at the Art Gallery of South Australia from May 25 to August 25.
Ramsay Art Prize 2019 finalists
Liam Benson (NSW)
Jessica Bradford (NSW) Ry David Bradley (VIC) Eric Bridgeman (QLD) Lina Buck (VIC)
Dale Collier (NSW)
Julia deVille (VIC)
Kuba Dorabialski (NSW)
Emily Ferretti (VIC)
Tom Freeman (WA)
Tarryn Gill (WA)
Nathan Hawkes (NSW) Sophia Hewson (VIC)
Hayley Millar-Baker (VIC)
Viv Miller (VIC)
Pierre Mukeba (SA)
Vincent Namatjira (SA)
Phuong Ngo (VIC)
Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran (NSW)
Jahnne Pasco-White (VIC)
Huseyin Sami (NSW)
Isadora Vaughan (VIC)
Sera Waters (SA)
Emily Ferretti, Australia, born 1982, Shifting Landscapes, 2018, Brunswick, Victoria, monotype on paper (twenty one panels); Courtesy the artist and Sophie Gannon Gallery, (Photo: Andrew Curtis)