UNSW Art & Design graduate and Sydney-based emerging artist, Sarah Contos has won the inaugural $100,000 Ramsay Art Prize -  Australia’s richest prize for young contemporary artists.

Contos won the award for her 21st century quilt titled, Sarah Contos Presents: The Long Kiss Goodbye, that in the words of Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA) curator Leigh Robb, “spills over like a new epic history tableaux, celebrating women in all their glory with fireworks, sequins, and PVC.”   

Presented at the AGSA, The Ramsay Art Prize aims to change the way Australians view artists under 40 years of age and value their work in the context of contemporary art.

The prize, open to artists working in any medium and held every two years, is supported by the James & Diana Ramsay Foundation in perpetuity. Of the 21 finalists chosen by an international judging panel from more than 450 entries, Contos’s work was selected unanimously. 

According to AGSA Diretcor Nick Mitzevich, the Ramsay Art Prize is a showcase of artists “at pivotal moments in their careers” who “have the potential to change the course of Australian art."

The twenty-one finalists selected for 2017 Ramsay Art Prize are Tony Albert (UNSW Art & Design Bowen Bungaree Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Residency Recipient) (NSW), Khadim Ali (UNSW Art & Design) (NSW), Jacobus Capone (WA), Celeste Chandler (VIC), Sarah Contos (UNSW Art & Design) (NSW), Georgina Cue (VIC), Keg de Souza (UNSW Art & Design) (NSW), Julie Fragar (QLD), Teelah George (WA), Natalya Hughes (UNSW Art & Design) (NSW), Trent Jansen (UNSW Art & Design) (NSW), Ash Keating (VIC), Owen Leong (UNSW Art & Design) (NSW), Vincent Namatjira (SA), Joey Nganjmirra (NT), Baden Pailthorpe (UNSW Art & Design) (NSW), Clare Peake (WA), Jason Phu (UNSW Art & Design) (NSW), Rebecca Selleck (ACT), James Tylor (SA) and Justine Varga (NSW).

The Ramsay Art Prize exhibition runs at the Art Gallery of South Australia from 26 May until 27 August.  

Contos' solo exhibition, Daughter Universe, is currently on display at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery until 17 June.