The Ramsay Art Prize Announces Finalists

Many of Bluethumb’s artists are under 40, or just beginning on their artistic journey, so we’re all for the encouragement of artists during the early stages of their careers. That’s why we’re big fans of the Ramsay Art Prize, Australia’s richest contemporary art prize for emerging artists. The prize is supported by the James and Diana Ramsay Foundation and hosted by the Art Gallery of South Australia. 2017 is their inaugural year, and when we got word that they had released their list of finalists, we decided to investigate further…

Ship in a stormThe Arrival by finalist Khadim Ali, 2016. Source: Ramsay Art Prize website

“The idea for the art prize was, for the James & Diana Ramsay Foundation, a continuation of the investment in the future,” says Assistant Director of Artistic Programs at the gallery, Lisa Slade, on the youth-oriented initiative. “For the Art Gallery of South Australia, however,” she goes on, “it was a case of playing to our strengths, and the world of contemporary Australian art is one we are very familiar with.”

Ceramics Intermediate Pots by finalist Clare Peake. Source: Ramsay Art Prize website

The Director of the gallery, Nick Mitzevich, has said that “Opportunities for artists at pivotal moments in their career have the potential to change the course of Australian art.” Lisa explains how this works, noting that the Ramsay Prize manages to stimulate change in the Australian art scene because it not only “taps into the zeitgeist but also [presents] a new exhibition opportunity for contemporary Australian artists. New artists and new audiences – this is what can really change Australian culture over time.”

Karrawirra Yerta (River Red Gum Country) by finalist James Tylor. Source: Ramsay Art Prize website

Lisa goes on to talk about why she’s excited about the shortlist for the Prize. “Some of these artists, although young, have extraordinary runs on the board. Many have exhibited widely, participated in other prizes and residencies and many have their work held in major collections. The best artists always have a unique vision… The Ramsay Prize encourages excellence and will reward those with a confident, individual approach to art making in the twenty first century.”

Reclining All of Your Women and Some of Mine by finalist Natalya Hughes. Source: Ramsay Art Prize website

And in terms of what the gallery has to expect from the first ever exhibition of the Ramsay Prize? “Touch wood, we haven’t had a serious challenge yet, however going into the installation period in coming weeks is sure to deliver some unexpected scenarios.” The gallery team, however, are not to be deterred in delivering a fantastic experience for the public; “We welcome these, as they are often the challenges that can make an exhibition memorable.”

Portraits Heroic Painting by finalist Celeste Chandler. Source: Ramsay Art Prize website

The winner will be announced on the 26th of May, and the exhibition is set to run from the 27th of May to the 27th of August. There is also a People’s Choice award – voting is open from the exhibition launch until the 6th of August.

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