UNSW Art & Design graduate Sarah Contos has won Australia’s richest prize for young contemporary artists, with her work Sarah Contos Presents: The Long Kiss Goodbye.
The massive ‘soft collage’ quilt took Contos three months to create by hand and machine and was comprised of about four years of the artist’s screen prints.
Measuring more than 6 metres by 3 metres, the quilt was inspired by the break-up of a long-term relationship and created especially for the competition.
Contos said the Prize was a “good motivator to get out of bed and start making. All those feelings … it was a way for me to say goodbye to all these characters and also a moment in time.
Art Gallery of South Australia, Director, Nick Mitzevich said the Long Kiss Goodbye is the artist's most ambitious work to date.
“This tour de force brings together aspects of her career from the last four years. Previous works of art and exhibition histories are all captured in this textile time-capsule, making it a self-initiated retrospective of her life in art.”
The judges were unanimous in their appreciation of the work.
“Contos’ 21st-century quilt spills over, and, like a new epic history tableaux, celebrates power women in all their glory with fireworks, sequins and PVC,” said 2017 Ramsay Art Prize judge and Art Gallery of South Australia, Curator of Contemporary Art, Leigh Robb.
The Prize is named after James and Diana Ramsay, leading cultural philanthropists in South Australia. Established in perpetuity in their name, the Prize was launched earlier this year and aims to inspire future generations of artists.
UNSW Art & Design graduates make up eight of the 21 finalists who are also eligible for a People’s Choice Prize supported by sponsors Lipman Karas. The cash prize of $15,000 is chosen by public vote and will be announced on 11 August.
The 2017 Ramsay Art Prize exhibition runs from 27 May to 27 August 2017 at the Art Gallery of South Australia.