Kate Bohunnis wins $100,000 Ramsay Art Prize 2021

Congratulations to Kate Bohunnis, winner of the Art Gallery of South Australia’s (AGSA) Ramsay Art Prize 2021, a $100,000 art prize supporting contemporary Australian artists under 40.

Ramsay Art Prize 2021 featuring Kate Bohunnis with the work ‘edges of excess’. Photograph: Saul Steed

A South Australian sculptural installation and printmaking artist, 30-year-old Bohunnis’ installations connect materials with psychological states and behaviours. In her winning work, a kinetic sculpture titled edges of excess, a pendulum axe, made from metal and fabricated Bohunnis herself, swings over a slumped flesh-like form made from silicone; it invites the viewer to consider the tipping point between function and dysfunction. The sculpture references divination tools used in spiritual healing introduced to the artist as a child. Through overuse, this divination tool bred anxiety and disempowerment.

Installation view: Ramsay Art Prize 2021 featuring Kate Bohunnis’ ‘edges of excess’. Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide;. Photograph: Saul Steed

This year’s judges included Wiradjuri artist Karla Dickens, Dr Daniel Mudie Cunningham, Director of Programs at Carriageworks, and Rebecca Evans, Curator of Decorative Arts & Design at AGSA.

Mudie Cunningham described the winning work as conceptually rigorous and technically resolved with an inventive approach to materials: ‘edges of excess speaks to the precarity of our times. It is a visceral portrait of both wellness and anxiety. It is a work full of contradiction.’

As Bohunnis says, ‘Where possible, I like to find my own way, sidestepping traditional teachings or methods to encounter freedom.’

‘The visceral emotion of Kate’s work reflects the human condition and the often precarious tension between anxiety and calm, and the uncertainty of existence… representing the very best of art and its capacity to profoundly influence the way we see the world and interact with it,’ adds Flinders University Museum of Art Director Fiona Salmon, Director of Flinders University Museum of Art at Flinders University in Adelaide – Bohunnis’ alma mater.

Established in the name of South Australia’s leading cultural philanthropists James and Diana Ramsay, the Ramsay Art Prize is presented by AGSA and supported in perpetuity by the James & Diana Ramsay Foundation and held every two years, with the winning work acquired into AGSA’s collection.

The Ramsay Art Prize 2021 exhibition runs from 22 May to 22 August at the Art Gallery of South Australia. The People’s Choice Prize, a non-acquisitive cash prize of $15,000 chosen by a public vote, will be announced on Friday, 13 August 2021.