Thursday, December 15, 2011

Call for Entries: RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition 2012

I'm very pleased to see that the Royal Watercolour Society (RWS) has relaunched its major Annual Open Competition as the RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition and is calling for (digital) entries.  I missed the exhibition last year due to being unable to walk any distance so am particularly looking forward to seeing it this year.

The Royal Watercolour Society is the oldest watercolour society in the world.  Its home is the Bankside Gallery, on the south bank of the River Thames - right next to Tate Modern.

This means that in 2012 the TWS will have three major exhibitions
A rainy day in Perugia with cars by David Paskett PRWS
watercolour and pen
exhibited at the RWS Spring Exhibition 2011
(you can view more of the President's work on the Bankside Gallery website)
This post:
Note in particular that although the RWS is flexible about the nature of the watercolour media that can be used in artwork submitted to the exhibition, it is insistent that:
  • all works must be on paper - so hopefully we'll see rather less of the impasto acrylic works which were trying to look like oils and which were, to my mind at least quite out of place in a watercolour exhibition
  • all works must initially be submitted online using a digital image and an online form.  
  • artists submitting work will need access to an email address to be able to enter - but it can, with their permission, be one belonging to a family member or friend!
The aim of the Open Competition

The aim of the competition is to encourage innovation and experimentation in watercolour.
The RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition is an annual competition open to non-Members. It aims to encourage innovation and experimentation in watercolour painting, spanning work on paper in watercolour, acrylic, gouache, pen & ink and watercolour mixed media. Artists may enter up to three works which, if selected, are exhibited at Bankside Gallery, the home of the Royal Watercolour Society.
Works exhibited at the Bankside Gallery in the RWS Open 2010
all paintings copyright the artist
Who can enter the competition?
  • The competition is open to non-members of the Royal Watercolour Society.
What to submit
  • Details are available in 
  • All paintings in water-based media on paper are eligible, including acrylic, gouache, watercolour and pen and ink. (note the emphasis "on paper")
  • There is no restriction on style or subject matter.
  • The works should have been painted within four years of submission 
  • Paintings must not exceed 100cm x 100cm when framed. 
  • A maximum of three works may be submitted at a cost of £12 per piece. 
  • All work must be for sale.
  • The works must be the original work of the artist and copyright must be vested in the named artist. [I recommend that any artist who is unclear about the meaning of "original work" and copyright see Art competitions and copyright - the AWS Gold Medal debate 08.09.08. and AWS gold medal controversy - the final word 17.08.10]
You can review my blog posts below about some of the previous exhibitions below. These include gallery shots of works in the exhibition and links to the websites of prizewinning artists.

How to enter
  • All entries are to be submitted digitally through the RWS website
  • This is the page with the online form - you will require an email address to proceed.
  • The deadline for submissions is Wednesday 11th January 2012.
  • Advice is given in the instructions on how to create a digital photograph eg
    • works should NOT be photographed through glass
    • crop the work to remove all background which is not the artwork
  • Successful entrants will be notified on 27th January 2012 via email and notification via the RWS website
How to submit work

All artwork must be properly framed and labelled.  Requirements are for a simple monochrome wood frame with a white or cream coloured mount.  Mirror plates should be fixed either side.  All works must also be glazed but non-reflective or tinted glass is not permitted.  Works exceeding 100cm x 100cm when framed will be rejected.

All original paintings must be delivered to the Bankside Gallery on Sunday 19th or Monday 20th February for hanging in the exhibition which opens on 24th February 2012 (with a PV on the 23rd)

Regional collections prior to this date are also available.

Important dates
  • SUBMIT:  Wednesday 11th January - Upload your digital submission to the RWS website by Midnight 
  • GET THE RESULT:  Friday 27th January - Find out your result on the RWS website
  • DELIVERY: Sunday 19th / Monday 20th February, 11am-6pm - Deliver selected work to Bankside Gallery - either direct or via regional collections at an earlier date
  • PRIVATE VIEW: Thursday 23rd February, 6-8pm 
  • COLLECT:  Thursday 15th March, 1-7pm - Collect any unsold work at the end of the exhibition.  (This is rather anti-social for people who don't live in London and who work normal working hours!)
Two watercolour paintings by Sarah Armstrong Jones
exhibited at the Bankside Gallery in the RWS Open 2010

The Judges

The 2012 judges will be 
Selected works
  • A list of selected paintings will be published on the RWS website on Friday 27th January 2012.
  • Successful entrants will receive an email:
    • notifying them that their work has been selected for exhibition
    • requirements in respect of framing and delivery to the gallery
The exhibition

The RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition 2012 Exhibition will take place at the Bankside Gallery between 24th February and 14th March 2012.

I'm not sure whether Blackfriars Tube station will be reopen by then.  If not, the gallery is less than a 10 minute walk from St Pauls Undergound Station.  Walk south of St Pauls, across the Millennium Bridge and past Tate Modern.

How to apply to become a Member of the RWS

The RWS is one of the most prestigious art societies in the world and all Members of the Royal Watercolour Society are elected on merit, in a tradition reaching back almost two hundred years.  

Naturally you have a few hurdles to jump before you are eligible for membership.  

One of the things you have to decide right at the beginning is whether you want to become a member of the Royal Watercolour Society or The Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours.  You don't seem to be able to be a member of both.
The election of new Members takes place each spring and is open to all professional artists who paint in watercolour, providing that they do not belong to another society of painters in watercolours in London. 
  • All New Members are elected by the current Membership of the Society, based on the quality of their work alone.  Initially artists become Associate Members. 
  • Application forms for the elections are available from Bankside Gallery in the autumn
  • Elections normally take place in March.  In 2012 the elections will take place on Saturday 17th March and all decisions are reached by majority vote in a secret ballot of current Members. 
  • Artists wishing to put themselves forward for election are asked to submit three framed works and a portfolio of supporting works for consideration.
The Society accepts work in watercolour, pen & ink, gouache and acrylic that is mixed with water and is on paper. All submitted work must have been made within the last four years.  

There are special arrangements for review of artwork submitted as part of the application and election process.

Application: How to submit artwork for review
  • Return your completed application form, CV, SAE and non-refundable fee of £40 by post to Bankside Gallery, 48 Hopton Street, London SE1 9JH before Friday 17th February (ie after you know whether your work has been accepted for this year's open exhibition). 
  • Deliver three framed, glazed paintings and a portfolio of supporting work to the Bankside Gallery on Friday 16th March between 11am and 7pm. Note in particular that artwork will not be accepted before or after this date and can not be accepted by post. 
  • You may arrange for a representative or professional art courier to deliver and unpack your work in the Gallery on this date.
  • Framed paintings must not exceed 1.5m x 1.5m. All painting must be clearly labelled on the back.  
  • Successful applicants will be required to donate one of their framed paintings to the RWS's Diploma Collection which contains work by members since its foundation in 1804.
  • The applicant's portfolio may contain small watercolour sketches, studies, drawings, sketchbooks and work in progress. Supporting work may be presented loose or in clear sleeves, but each item must have your name written on it in pencil. Your portfolio must also be clearly labelled on the outside.  (In my experience of reviewing work submitted to another art society, artwork is removed from sleeves and needs to be capable of identification to ensure it gets back into the right portfolio!)
  • Artwork and portfolio can be collected on Sunday 18th March between 11am and 7pm - when applicants are told the outcome of their application.
Success brings rights and obligations.  Initially all successful applicants will become Associate Members and will be entitled to use the letters ARWS after their name.  However newly elected Associate Members are also obliged to 
  • pay an annual subscription of £250
  • submit work for sale to the Society’s exhibitions on a regular basis, or to come before the Council who may consider rescinding Membership. 
A very odd timeline!

What's very odd about this is that the date for delivery of artwork relating to the review of candidates for election is two days after the exhibition finishes on 14th March and one day after any unsold works need to be collected on 15th March!

It would be worth querying with the RWS whether works submitted for exhibition and unsold can be considered for an application without having to leave the gallery.  Also what happens to any works which are submitted to the exhibition and then sold.  I'm assuming the juxtaposition of dates means that it may be possible to submit the same works to the exhibition and for review re any application for membership.  Otherwise artists really need to have a two excellent sets of paintings - to submit to the exhibition and to submit as part of the application for election.

It's certainly worth noting that the works which can be considered in relation to an application for membership are much bigger than those which can be submitted to the exhibition.  So large works will, in any case, need to be submitted separately.

I actually find this all a bit silly.  Every other art society requires artists to submit work to their annual exhibition and then the works of candidates for admission are reviewed when hung in the gallery.  This also allows members to review works from candidates on days other than a specific selection day.

Let's see if there are any changes to the timetable next year! :)

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