Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Call for Entries: RA Summer Exhibition 2011

This post is about how to enter the 2011 Summer Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts:
  • for those who have not submitted before - and 
  • for those who have just forgotten how and need a reminder!
Installation in Gallery IV - Summer Exhibition 2010
Foreground: Gary Webb, Flashy
Photo: John Bodkin (courtesy of the Royal Academy of Arts)
The Royal Academy's Annual Summer Exhibition started in 1768.  It has been held every year since and in 2011 it will be held between 7th June  and 15th August.
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.
The Summer Exhibition has two main functions.
  1. The Royal Academicians can display their work - in just the same way you might do at the Annual Exhibition of an Art Society - except their work can often be large and imposing and comes with price tags running into several thousand pounds!
  2. It's an open exhibition and a showcase for contemporary art of all styles and media.  It includes paintings, sculpture, photography, prints, architectural models, film, and artist's books.
The exhibition is curated each year by an annually rotating committee of Royal Academicians who are all practicing artists and architects.

For 2011, the Selection and Hanging Committee are: Nicholas Grimshaw (President), Tony Bevan, Olwyn Bowey, Maurice Cockrill, Michael Craig-Martin, Stephen Farthing, Piers Gough, Michael Sandle, Alan Stanton, John Wragg, Norman Foster, Chris Orr, Christopher Le Brun.

Who can enter the RA's Summer Exhibition?

Any artist - living anywhere in the world - may enter work for selection.  Over 12,000 works are submitted for consideration every year of which about 1,200 are exhibited.

The RA also aims to include well over 100 artists every year who have not previously exhibited in the Summer Exhibition.

Why enter the Summer Exhibition

It looks great on your CV if you're the sort of artist who is trying to impress galleries which like that sort of thing or are impressed by such achievements.

The show provides an excellent opportunity to sell your art work.  During the three months that the exhibition is on display it will be seen by around 200,000 visitors.  All artists are strongly encouraged to enter work that is available for sale. (That's called a hint!)

What are the Prizes like?  

The Summer Exhibition is probably more notable for the overall size of the prize pot rather than the size of individual prizes.  There are other exhibitions and art competitions in London which can match the top prize money.

In total, over £65,000 will be given in prizes.  All exhibited works are eligible for the relevant prizes and the awards include 
  • The Charles Wollaston Award for the most distinguished work (£25,000), 
  • The Jack Goldhill Award for a sculpture (£10,000), 
  • The Hugh Casson Drawing Prize (£3000), 
  • The British Institution Awards for students (4 prizes of £1000), 
  • The Rose Award for Photography (£1000), 
  • The Sunny Dupree Family Award for a Woman Artist (£3500) and 
  • The Bovis Lend Lease/Architects Journal Awards for Architecture (£15,000 in total). 
How to submit work for the Summer Exhibition

You can download a list of Frequently asked questions (FAQs) (Word doc 104KB) and are recommened by me to do that NOW.

An artist may enter a maximum of two works for the consideration of the judges, for a handling charge of £25.00 per work.

There are basically three stages involved in submitting work for consideration
  1. Complete the Call for Entries (registration form) and send it to the RA with the correct fee In sterling). An entry form will be sent to you after payment is taken.
  2. Complete the Entry Form and return it to the royal Academy by 15th March 2011 by 4pm.
  3. Deliver the work on the specific submission days.
Entry Forms will be available to purchase on the Royal Academy website from 10 January until early March 2011. Which means you can't do anything right now other than ponder the answers to all the other freequently askled questions.

There's lots of encouragement every year to get your entry form  EARLY and 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.

Note that you can only pay in sterling.  You can however pay :
  • On-line or over the phone: by credit card or debit card (please do NOT e-mail your card details) 
  • By post: credit card / cheque / postal order (please do NOT send cash). Payment must be received by 15 March 2011
  • by credit card / cheque 
The RA prefer your work to be for sale (since the exhibition helps finance the RA Schools) but does not need to be - so long as it is marked NFS on the form.

Delivery Days 2011
  • Deadline for photographs of sculpture: 15 March
  • Sculpture invited from photographs: 27 April
  • Deliveries by transport agents only : 28 March
  • Glazed works (watercolours, prints, drawings, etc): 28 and 29 March
  • Unglazed works (oils, acrylics, etc): 30 and 31 March
  • Architecture: 28 April
"Glazed works" means works framed behind glass.  These are usually prints, photographs, drawings, and watercolours.

You can send in unframed canvases but the RA will NOT accept liability for such works.

You can submit video works however all film-based works must be submitted on a DVD in QuickTime file format together with associated Entry Forms by 15th March 2011.

There are no receipts given for work submitted due to the fact they are accepting 12,000 works in a short space of time.  They do however scan the work on arrival.

If you have an enquiry, please email


The Summer Exhibition Committee has decided that there will be no theme for 2011.

If you've got a query you'd rather ask somebody else before you trouble the RA you can try indicating what it is as a comment to this post as a lot of people who enter work read this post.



  1. Great post - I had no idea the RA art competition was so open to artists of any medium or back-round! I wrote a quick blog link about the competition and your site on my blog since I though it was such great info :) thought you might want to check it out


  2. There are a couple of points worth noting, though, if you are considering entering - one is that although about 1200 works are exhibited, typically around/over 50% of these are works by RAs, so in fact the "open" part isn't quite as open as it at first appears. Secondly, if you paint (or do some other sort of art) in a "comtemporary" style, you stand a far better chance of being accepted than if you paint in a realism/impressionism style - and there's a "salon des refuses" run by a commercial gallery every year which shows many of these.

  3. Good points Dave.

    It is intensely competitive - there's no denying that.

    I'll be doing a separate post later about the Llewellyn Alexander "Not the Summer Exhibition" exhibition


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