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May 26, 2017

Sarah Contos wins inaugural Ramsay Art Prize

Rendered speechless.

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  • Pictures: Julian Cebo
  • Words: Joshua Fanning

Arriving in Adelaide on Wednesday, Sarah Contos is $100,000 richer on Friday.

The new art prize awarded to an Australian contemporary artist under the age of 40 is meant to be life changing. Watching Sarah’s reaction as Chair of the James and Diana Ramsay Foundation – Nicholas Ross – called her name, there could be little doubt the Foundation and Art Gallery of South Australia had achieved their goal.

“There are so many artists in this exhibition that are incredible,” says Sarah as we manage to grab her amid the throng of our media peers.

“I was actually having a bit of a sooky moment before the opening, thinking, ‘the winner knows… the winner knows‘ and really – my reaction was pure and honest. I had no idea,” Sarah tells us.

Sarah covered her face with her hands when her name was announced. She cupped her eyes and, ever so slightly, shook her head in disbelief as gasps from around the gallery were let out and cheers and clapping rained down.

Meanwhile Sarah’s entry into the Ramsay Art Prize hung on the wall opposite the artist as she gently cried.

An enormous screen-printed and assembled fabric artwork called Sarah Contos Presents: The Long Kiss Goodbye, it is an epic work of scale and intelligence which evokes an interpretation of power that seems both gentle and constant – fun and sophisticated.

But perhaps that’s our interpretation based on meeting Sarah, an effervescent personality in a pair of brand new Nike Air Force One’s – bought especially for the occasion.

“I didn’t want to wear my dirty old Blundstones,” says Sarah. This prompts us to ask what other changes the $100,000 prize might inspire.

“Well I really need a new vacuum… but I don’t want to say that because it sounds so little but I really need a new vacuum,” Sarah reiterates, laughing all the while.

CityMag tells her that we can attest to the joy of a brand new Dyson and wholeheartedly endorse the Miele vacuum at our office. A good vacuum is worth investing in.

Of course, the choice of what vacuum to get – like this amazing prize – is entirely hers. Congratulations Sarah!


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