Words: Erin Irwin
Given that 70% of Australian art school graduates are women, the representation of women artists at exhibitions and art prizes continues to be dishearteningly inadequate. That is why the Ravenswood Australian Women’s Art Prize, first established in 2017 by Ravenswood School for Girls, is a prize specifically designed to elevate and advocate for women’s art in Australia. The prize has no theme, asking applicants to submit a work that encapsulates their practice.
Ravenswood Foundation Chairman John McLean summarises the motivations of the prize perfectly, saying “the prize has been established to raise the profile of this country’s great women artists and to assist in helping the next generation of artists reach their fullest potential. I am confident the Ravenswood Australian Women’s Art Prize has and will play a major role in championing women artists across Australia and provide the platform for future generations of artists to flourish”.
This year the judging panel – made up of the prize’s Patron Jennifer Turpin, Visual Arts Curriculum Manager at the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority Kathryn Hendy-Ekers, artist and educator Kathryn Minkley, and artists Jade Oakley, Lara Merrett and Katrina Collins – have been faced with a hard task, with a high standard of submissions and large selection of finalists.
The artist named Professional Artist Winner this year is Maria Fernanda Cardoso for her work Actual Size V (Maratus Madelineae). The work, which utilises the courtship displays of Australian jumping spiders, has won her a $35,000 prize.
Of Cardoso’s work, Turpin states that “Maria Fernanda has magnified the spider hundreds of times so we can see it with its glorious colours and mesmerising patterns, perfected over thousands of years of evolution to seduce females. She has made the invisible visible to us …in all its natural splendour!”
In the Emerging Artist category, Alethea Richter has nabbed top spot with her work Untitled (Dissolution 1), and Freyja Fristad’s work Interference of Perception: Rhopography (Lamp) topped the Indigenous Emerging Artist Category. Fristad responded to the win saying “I feel so privileged to present my work surrounded by such a strong lineup of Professional, Emerging, and Indigenous Emerging artists”.
Highly commended recipients have also been named, including Laresa Kosloff, Jill Orr, Chris Gleisner, Zena Vix, Sonia Namarnyilk and Basma Nulla.
The exhibition featuring the winning works and those of all the finalists is open until Sunday 28 May at Ravenswood School for Girls, Sydney. For more information, visit the prize’s website here.
This article was posted 17 May 2023.
Image: Maria Fernanda Cardoso, Actual Size V (Maratus Madelineae). Pigment print on premium 300gsm photo paper, 152 x 200cm. Courtesy: the artist and Ravenswood Australian Women’s Art Prize, Sydney.