Ramsay Art Prize 2021

Photo: Saul Steed

Kate Bohunnis, South Australian artist, was awarded the Ramsay Art Prize this morning.

The Ramsay Art Prize is fairly unique across Australia and awards $100,000 to an artist under the age of 40. Additionally, the winning work is acquired by the Art Gallery of South Australia. This prize is well-established and is guaranteed in perpetuity. At this early point in a career, the Ramsay Art Prize is life-changing.

But for Kate? “Wow. It’s momentous, ” she said this morning at the award ceremony. “I feel very proud, and I feel very proud of everyone else in this room. Cappuccinos on me!”

Her work, edges of excess, is a pendulum, made from metal and was entirely fabricated by Kate herself. Originally commissioned for the ACE Open show ‘if the future is to be worth anything: 2020 South Australian Artist Survey,’ the work is impactful in the gallery. The pendulum swings over a slumped flesh-like form made from silicone, referencing divination tools used in spiritual healing introduced to the artist as a child. Instead, similar pendulums bred anxiety and disempowerment.

Photo: Saul Steed

AGSA Director Rhana Devenport ONZM says, “Bohunnis is a rising star in the contemporary art scene, and this winning work represents an ambitious leap in her practice.” Devenport emphasises that this prize is designed to elevate young contemporary artists, and as Kate is currently unrepresented, this prize is likely to do that.

With over 350 applicants, judges Wiradjuri artist Karla Dickens, Dr Daniel Mudie Cunningham, Director of Programs at Carriageworks and Rebecca Evans, Curator of Decorative Arts & Design at AGSA, had the hard job of narrowing these down to 24 works.

Mudie Cunningham calls edges of excess “a work full of contradiction.” He describes the work as conceptually rigorous and technically resolved with an inventive approach to materials.

These works feature in the current Ramsay Art Prize exhibition at the Art Gallery of South Australia, on display until 22 August.

The Ramsay Art Prize exhibition is now open. It also includes a People’s Choice Prize of $15,000, offered by Lipman Karas and decided by public vote.

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