Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Royal Society of British Artists 2014 Exhibition: Call for Entries

This is a summary of the Call for Entries for the 297th Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of British Artists. This will be held at the Mall Galleries between 5th and 15th March 2014.  Plus a commentary on the type of work which is typically selected for this exhibition.

The deadline for digital submission is the 2nd January 2014 and receiving days are 24-25 January 2014.
The Annual Exhibition exhibits the best of contemporary painting, sculpture, printmaking and drawing sourced from member artists and through open submission.
Founded in 1823, the RBA seeks submissions of work displaying the highest standards of skill, expression and concept of draughtsmanship.
All quotations are from either the RBA or Mall Galleries websites. 

RBA Annual Exhibition 2013 - small works by Judith Gardner RBA NEAC and Barbara Richardson RBA
I'm trying to catch up with the Call for Entries for the Annual Exhibitions of the national art societies in the UK.  and will be posting more soon with respect to the Royal Institute of Watercolour Painters and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters

What sort of artwork gets selected for this exhibition?

You have two big advantages when submitting work to the RBA due to the fact that the art society has embraced the scope offered by digital technology. This allows the Society to have digital information on view which is very helpful to both prospective entrants - and potential buyers!

You can see a virtual version of the exhibition on the RBA website of works in last year's exhibition on the RBA website. This provides:

  • a reasonable feel for the type of artwork which gets selected for this exhibition.  
  • information about which work by members sold in the exhibition and hence what the art collectors who come to this exhibition like.

You can also view the the RBA exhibition catalogue for the 2013 exhibition. This very usefully indicates the type of media of artwork exhibited (both members and non-members) and more importantly the prices of work selected for the exhibition.

Do please bear in mind that a number of the members are well established professional artists with a following and their prices will reflect this fact.

In addition, while both the above show you an image in isolation, if you take a look at my review of last year's exhibition - Review: Royal Society of British Artists - 296th Annual Exhibition you can get a much better sense of the size of the artwork selected for exhibition. I seem to recall the smaller works were selling better than the larger ones - particularly if they were of the quality of the ones by artists like Judith Gardner and Barbara Richardson (see image at top of the post)

I'm also including some images in this post 

Also note how multiple works from the same artist tend to be submitted in groups of works with similar or identical frames which hang well together.

This RBA states that accepts artwork about all subjects and in all media for the exhibition.

However, if you review the exhibition catalogue you will find that:
  • Oil paintings completely dominate the exhibition. It is however slightly confusing on the website because the huge number of members' oil paintings rate four categories: oiloil on canvasoil on board and oil on paper!
  • there is a respectable showing by the sculptors and printmakers across a range of media 
  • there are few paintings in watercolour and mixed media
  • there were no works in digital media or video which are both well established media for contemporary artwork
Thus the statement needs a subtext to clarify that the RBA only accepts paintings, drawings, prints and sculpture.

RBA 2013 - Images of monochrome works and fine art prints
The exhibition was very colourful last year - but it also included monochrome work

If you review the online exhibition of MEMBERS work you will see that figurative work, still life and landscapes predominate. There were just two abstract paintings (and I'd personally call them abstracted figurative paintings!) and three abstract sculptures
The Society exhibits leading artists who employ a sound knowledge and application of draughtsmanship as the basis of their work.
I would venture to suggest that the evidence of what gets exhibited suggests that those submitting are sticking to a fairly traditional agenda when it comes to media.  It's either that or the RBA selection panel comprises members who pick work in media they know and work in - which perhaps explains the dominance of oil paintings.

Overall, it's probably more accurate to say that the society accepts all media for an exhibition of paintings, drawings fine art prints and sculpture but it really likes oil paintings and artwork which is traditionally figurative and representational!

If you use the menu selection available on the digital version of last year's exhibition you can see just how many works by MEMBERS were selected in different genres and different media.  I find it confusing and suggest the categories be redrawn to make them much simpler (ie a few works do not make a category!)

You can also view a gallery of members work in alphabetical order which gives you a good sense of what this art society likes when it comes to admitting new members.

What can you enter - the details

These are the general guidelines for submission to all FBA exhibitions at the Mall Galleries

Who can submit work?

  • This is an OPEN exhibition and is not limited to work by members.   
  • It's also not limited to artists living in the UK. However - despite the name - artists living outside the UK will need to deal with a carrier that will unwrap the artwork, store the packing material and repack it at the end of the exhibition if the work has not sold. This service is not available at the receiving gallery.

How many works can be submitted? 

  • a total of six works can be submitted. Of these three can be original framed prints. You need to detail edition and how many are available.

How many works will be exhibited

  • a maximum of four works are selected. I'm not sure how this gives any incentive to submit more than four given the expense of making two trips to pick up work.

What media is acceptable

  • In principle - any medium including sculpture and original prints 
  • In practice - see my comments above

Are there any limits on size?

  • In principle no.
  • In practice - prior notice required of any art taller than 2.4m (8ft) 

Does the work have to be for sale?

  • All works must be for sale. Minimum price: £300, unframed prints: £120.

Can I submit unframed works?

  • All works must be framed. 
  • As per the norm of most if not all competitive open exhibitions at this level, the following are inadmissible (i.e. you're wasting your fee for submission if you submit a work without a proper frame): metal and clip frames; glazed Works with unprotected glass edges. Non-reflective glass is unacceptable. Frames and mounts of an unusual colour, size or design may prejudice the chance of selection.
  • My advice
    • Make sure your work does not look cheap due to the frame you use!  
    • Don't waste your money submitting a good artwork in a cheap frame which will be rejected. 
    • Check the images in my review post re the type of frames which are acceptable.

Are there any special conditions re submission?

  • All artwork has to be submitted unwrapped and no packing materials will be stored
  • There are no special arrangements for artists living outside the UK wanting to submit work.

How to enter

Digital submission

The standard submission is digital i.e. online registration coupled with payment of the fee and upload of a digital image file for each artwork for a pre-screening stage via the Mall Galleries Registration website at   The pre-screening eliminates works which would be rejected at stage 2 - display in front of the selection panel of members.

Artists, the Society and the Gallery all benefit from the pre-screening due to reduced costs of processing and handling artwork.  If the works pass the pre-screening artists are invited to submit their work for display in front of the selection panel in the second stage.  In other words - getting through stage 1 does not mean the artwork is selected for exhibition.
The basic process and requirements for digital images are as follows
  • register and obtain artist login 
  • pay the fee (£12 per artwork, £6 per artwork for under 35s)
  • Upload digital images of artwork(s) 
  • Image files need to be JPG files no bigger than 3MB in size.  The system will accept varying resolutions and image dimensions. It won't accept file names containing symbols e.g. *'()?<>
  • My advice
    • Make the file as big as you can with a good level of resolution.  In other words don't go for a very high resolution and a very small pic in terms of pixel dimensions.
    • The file should contain the image and nothing else (except an optional photography colour/value card)
    • Make the file name your name and the title of the artwork 

Manual hand-in option

  • For the 2014 exhibition, artists can continue to bypass the digital pre-screening process and hand in artwork on the submission day.  However that doesn't mean they have any sort of priority over the pre-screened works.  

Regional pick-up

  • Artists who find it difficult to travel to London for delivery and pick-up have the option of employing an art courier to deliver and pick-up work - see Artists outside London page on the Mall Galleries website

Timeline for submission

These are the key dates which need to be observed by all those submitting work to the exhibition.


Registration & digital submission closes
Thursday 2nd January, 12pm
Notification of pre-selection posted
Artwork that is pre-selected should be delivered on on the receiving days
Thursday 9th January, 12pm

Receiving days
Friday 24th and Saturday 25th January 10am to 5pm
Notification of acceptance posted
Thursday 30th January, 12pm
Collection of unaccepted work
Saturday 1st February 10am to 5pm


  • Open to the public: Wednesday 5 March, 10am - 5pm
  • Exhibition Closes: Saturday 15 March, 4pm
The exhibition very often has a range of events and activities in the gallery during the exhibition.


There's no statement as to prizes this year.  These are the details of the awards presented at the 2013 annual exhibition

Who can apply for membership?

It is essential that you have had several pieces of work accepted and shown at 3-4 of our annual exhibitions so members are aware of the quality of your work.....

Members vote for candidates to membership if they feel confident of the type and quality of work likely to be shown in the future. (You should show both vision and individuality in your work)
See this page Election to Membership of The Royal Society of British Artists  for more details of how to apply for membership of the RBA via exhibition submission.

History of the Royal Society of British Artists

My 2011 Call for entries post provided an account of the history of the society and the various artists which have been associated with it over the years.


  1. Thanks very much Making Mark for yet another informative review of a Mall Galleries exhibition.

    Offer Waterman & Co.

  2. Please note I normally delete all blog posts which leave links unrelated to the post in question.


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