Grace Cossington Smith Art Award 2024

2024 Art Award winners

We are excited to announce the winners of the Grace Cossington Smith biennial art award 2024.

Virginia Keft – the recipient of the acquisitive $15,000 prize

Nicola Mason – early career artist award $2,500 non acquisitive

Shahroud Ghahani – local artist award $2,500 non acquisitive


Grace Cossington Smith art award $15,000 acquisitive: Virginia Keft

Virginia Keft: Artist Statement
As a Muruwarri woman who is a guest on Dharawal Country, I hold a deep respect and love of this place. The painting represents the Australian landscape on Dharawal Country as viewed from my window. The warm twilight glow that envelopes the work and embraces the bluegreen of Geera (Mt Keira) speaks to ideas of ‘home’ in multiple senses. As a child I learned sewing and textile skills by watching my mother at her sewing machine. As an adult I sat by the Barwon River with Elders and learned the ancient weaving practices of my people. Home is divided between two places – Dharawal Country where I live, and my grandmother’s ancestral home on Ngemba and Muruwarri Country. In this work, home comes together – the ever-present flying foxes that inhabit the gums below Mt Keira and the suburban backyard are connected to my cultural ways of making and weaving.

Judges Felicity Fenner and Blair French commented:
matjam bagin tja (flying fox in the twilight) evokes the mood and atmosphere of the suburban fringe where human infrastructure and the natural world intersect. Keft has produced an intricate and complex painting that combines traditional weaving and intricate linework to communicate that fleeting moment of beauty as the colours of the setting sun illuminate the sky.



Grace Cossington Smith early career artist award $2,500 non-acquisitive: Nicola Mason

Nicola Mason: Artist Statement
The scene is my studio in Napoleon Reef/Walang, Wiradjuri country and my painting is part of The Yellow Studio series where I reference Matisse’s The Red Studio, in which he depicts his Parisian workspace. My painting makes further connections to my time in France. The paintings within my painting are of other paintings of mine from this series. With my interest in the theatre and physicality of playing in my painting process, I painted 20 small painting props of memories and visions referenced from my time living in France in 2017. I then moved these paintings around my studio ready to be referenced into my next painting on the easel. Further connections to my life and process include other objects within this work such as some still life regulars on the table and the loved nanna blankets that were made by my kid’s great gran for our wedding.

Judges Felicity Fenner and Blair French commented:
The Yellow Studio 1: inside presents an interesting tableaux of objects, art and habitation. The pictures within pictures and compositional arrangement of multiple planes within the domestic space have the feel of a stage set, while the painting style and colours reference both Matisse and Grace Cossington Smith.



Grace Cossington Smith local artist award $2,500 non-acquisitive: Shahroud Ghahani

Shahroud Ghahani: Artist Statement
The artwork The Goddess of no names was made in reaction to experiences of brutality against women. It explores the complexity of female archetypes through intercultural narratives. The female hybrid figure appears restricted and unstable. However, in a surreal gesture, she is connected to the natural world and the inherent liberty that comes with it. The underwater sea elements are colourful and vibrant in contrast to the dark fabric that envelops her body. Her braided hair moves with the marine life, symbolising her inward freedom, a salvation from the harsh societal forces upon her.

Judges Felicity Fenner and Blair French commented:
We were really impressed with how a contemporary feminist narrative has been rendered in a way that incorporates collage and the visual vocabulary of the artist’s Iranian heritage. She is a local artist conveying a strong connection to her life and culture through precise and careful work, while also responding to collectively shared issues of universal importance.


2024 GCS Art Award finalists and exhibition

Download the catalogue here.



Thank you to the many artists who entered the 2024 GCS art award

The Grace Cossington Smith Gallery and Abbotsleigh invited submissions from Australian artists for the Grace Cossington Smith biennial art award for work in any two-dimensional media in response to the theme Making Connections.

The award theme is inspired by the work of Abbotsleigh Old Girl and artist Grace Cossington Smith who made connections with her changing world through her drawing and painting.

The awards:

  • $15,000 awarded to the winner (acquisitive).
  • $2,500 awarded to an early-career artist.
  • $2,500 awarded to a local artist from Hornsby and Ku-ring-gai area.



We are delighted to announce the judges of the 2024 Grace Cossington Smith art award

Felicity Fenner, Chair, City of Sydney Public Art Advisory Panel and Associate Professor, Curating & Cultural Leadership, Faculty of Arts, Design & Architecture, UNSW Sydney. She is a writer, curator of contemporary art, and an advisor on public art projects to corporate organisations, local and state governments.

Dr Blair French is a curator, writer and arts leader. He has a has a distinguished career across the arts sector, and his most recent role was Chief Executive Officer of Carriageworks, Sydney. He has held Senior positions at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Artspace Visual Arts Centre, Performance Space and the Australian Centre for Photography.