Friday, January 22, 2010

How to enter the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition 2010

View of the Small Weston Room
Summer Exhibition 2009
Photo Copyright Royal Academy of Arts

This post is about how to enter the Summer Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts - for those who have not submitted before - and those who have just forgotten how and need a reminder!

One of the founding principles of the Royal Academy of Arts was to 'mount an annual exhibition open to all artists of distinguished merit' to finance the training of young artists in the RA Schools. Now known as the Summer Exhibition and held every year without interruption since 1769, the exhibition attracts around 10,000 works, the selection being carried out by Academicians chaired by the President.

Every summer, the Royal Academy hosts the largest open-submission contemporary art exhibition in the world. While undoubtedly a platform for the work of the Royal Academicians it always displays new work by a wide range of established and unknown living artists.

The Royal Academy’s 242nd Summer Exhibition will be held in the Main Galleries between 14 June – 22 August 2010. Around 200,000 visitors will visit and view about 1,200 works. It's very much an established part of the Summer Season in London and hence will attract people with funds who like to buy art!

How to enter the Summer Exhibition 2010

Who can enter

Anyone can enter - whether you are trained or untrained, amateur or professional, UK citizen or an artist who lives abroad. You can also submit work which is the result of a collaboration.

How do I get hold of an entry form?

The Summer Exhibition is not like other exhibitions. You first have to register and pay a handling fee of £25 for up to two works in order to apply for an application form!

All completed forms then have to be returned to the Summer Exhibition Office by the 18th March - so no time to lose!
The Entry process is divided into 3 stages:
  1. Call for Entries: The attached form (on the Call For Entries which is available online) is submitted along with your fee.
  2. Entry form: A more comprehensive form is sent to you for completion, detailing each work to be submitted.
  3. Delivery of works: This takes place on the dates described overleaf
An artist is entitled to submit a maximum of two works and there is a handling fee of £ 25 per work (which is non-refundable and includes VAT).
Summer Exhibition: Call for Entries

There are three key documents which you need to download from the Summer Exhibition page on the Royal Academy website

This is how to get hold of an entry form
Entry Forms may be purchased from Monday 11 January until Friday 12 March 2010. To obtain an Entry Form, please register with us in one of the following ways:
  • Complete the attached Registration Form and return it to us together with the correct entry fee
  • Visit our website or email
  • Telephone the Summer Exhibition Office 020 7300 5929/5969 between 10am – 5pm, Mondays to Fridays other than bank holidays.
There's lots of encouragement to do this online and to avoid the telephone which can get very busy. The FAQs document gives you all the details you need to know about how do this and how to pay.

Admissable and Inadmissable

The Call for Entries is not prescriptive as to what can be submitted - below is as much as you get unless it's a sculpture or an architectural model. I think I'm right in saying that I've only seen film submitted by RAs.
the Summer Exhibition is a unique showcase for art of all styles and media, encompassing paintings, sculpture, photography, prints and architectural models.
Summer Exhibition: Call for Entries
Artists are strongly encouraged to submit work which is for sale. I'd take this to be code for "you don't stand much of a chance of being selected if it isn't for sale!"

This is what is defined as inadmissable. (Don't you just love it? They stipulate "no copies" without defining what means in the context of the derivative work which gets submitted and hung in the past! However they do require each artist to stipulate that they confirm, by entering the work, that they hold all intellectual property rights in the work.)
Inadmissible works
5.1 The following types of work are inadmissible:
5.1.1 works that are over the specified size limit of 244 × 350 cm (excluding sculpture);
5.1.2 works that have already been exhibited in an institution in London (excluding prints);
5.1.3 copies of works;
5.1.4 works by a deceased artist who has been dead for more than a year on 16 March 2010; or
5.1.5 works that contain noxious or toxic substances, have flammability below 50°c or incorporate dangerous electrical appliances.
5.2 The artist must ensure that submitted works conform to all applicable health and safety standards and regulations. The artist agrees to indemnify the Royal Academy of Arts, its staff, and visitors to the exhibition for any liability or costs incurred as a consequence or breach of such standards and regulations.

You must submit work unwrapped to the art handling team at the RA. This means you cannot post works - however you can post works to an art handling agent who will unwrap for you. There are no receipts for the work submitted as they are receiving over 10,000 works in just 4 days.

Delivery Dates

It gets really busy at the RA towards the end of March - with 3D works arriving in early May
  • Deadline for photographs of sculpture: 16 March
  • Sculpture invited from photographs: 5 May
  • Deliveries by transport agents only : 25 March
  • Glazed works (watercolours, prints, drawings, etc): 26 and 29 March (all watercolours and prints must be framed behind glass)
  • Unglazed works (oils, acrylics, etc): 30 and 31 March
  • Architecture: 6 May
Selection and Hanging Committe: This year the Academicians taking part in the selection of pieces for the exhibition are: Olwyn Bowey, Stephen Chambers, David Chipperfield, Anne Christopher, Eileen Cooper, Stephen Farthing, Norman Foster, Michael Hopkins, John Hoyland, Allen Jones, David Remfry, John Wragg

After that you just sit back and wait to hear whether or not your work has been selected. Maybe become a fan on Facebook? Bear in mind that only a small proportion of the work submitted through the open submission process will be selected and not all the works selected will be hung.

You should hear whether or not your work has been accepted in early June.

Why not have a go? You never know you might get to go the 'Varnishing Day' Preview Party on 7th June and might win a prize! :)

The prizes include:
  • £25,000 - The Royal Academy of Arts Charles Wollaston Award
  • Bovis Lend Lease / Architects’ Journal Grand Award for Architecture and Award for the Best First Time Architecture Exhibitor.
  • The Jack Goldhill Award for Sculpture
  • £3,000 - The Hugh Casson Drawing Prize
  • The British Institution Awards for Students
  • £3,500 - The Sunny Dupree Family Award for a woman artist
  • £1,000 - The Rose Award for Photography

The Art of the Landscape


  1. Interesting! I might give it a try... Your blog is an invaluable source of information, Katherine :)

  2. Thanks for this very well written and helpful entry. I will think about this as one of my goals this year is to enter three competitions, one photographic and two art. I already have two lined up. Also, I believe that the age cut off is 50 and as I am 48 in April, I don't have long to have a crack at it.


  3. There's absolutely no age constraint Lorrie - you've got lots of opportunities to enter!

  4. I think the date for sending in the entry form for the Summer Exhibition is tomorrow, 16th March, not 18th... I think I am correct??... I just nearly missed it!


  5. You are indeed correct. I'm now trying to puzzle out where I got the 18th March from - because it was on their website somewhere.

  6. My concern is how long may I have to wait in line to hand in my works/ I need to plan my rail tickets and need to have some idea how long I will be in london.Anyone with experience of works under glass sending in days?

  7. Why not get the earliest trains and latest trains compatible with a cheap ticket and seeing art exhibitions as well as handing in work?

    It would be a pity to come to London and not see some exhibitions!


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