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Gallery launches new $100,000 art prize

Arts & Culture

The Art Gallery of South Australia today launches a new national contemporary art prize worth $100,000 and supported by philanthropist organisation the James & Diana Ramsay Foundation.

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Open to artists aged under 40 working in any medium, the Ramsay Art Prize presents “a wonderful opportunity for young artists to create exciting new work”, says foundation director Diana Ramsay, who celebrates her 90th birthday this month.

Since 1972, the Ramsays have provided almost $20 million in support to the gallery – including for the development of its collection and growth of family programs.

Their foundation also provides vital support for South Australia’s broader arts and culture scene, with grants helping organisations such as Adelaide Youth Orchestras and State Opera, as well as the 2015 Fleurieu Food & Wine Art Prize and Ngeringa Arts’ acquisition of a rare Guadagnini cello.

Submissions for the new Ramsay Art Prize will open in September this year, with finalists to be exhibited at the gallery from May 26 until August 27 next year.

The gallery says the prize will encourage contemporary artists to make their best work “in what are arguably their best years”.

“Generally speaking, artists make their mark early – they establish a signature that is then honed but often their early work is brave, fresh and career-defining,” says gallery director Nick Mitzevich.

“Tom Roberts painted A break away! [acquired by the gallery in the late 1890s] when he was 35 years old, proving that artists often hit their heights in their early years and that opportunities early on are formative and can change the nature of Australian art.”

Judges already confirmed for the 2017 Ramsay Art Prize include the gallery’s new curator of contemporary art, Leigh Robb, and Australian artist “Nell”, whose work is currently on display in Magic Object: the 2016 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art.


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