Sunday, December 20, 2015

Call for Entries: Society of Botanical Artists' Annual Exhibition 2016

The process, fees and timescales have changed for the call for entries for the 2016 Annual Exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artists

These are explained below. However the key changes to note are:

  • non-members can submit digital entries this year
  • the fees charged have changed and are now much simpler
  • the timescale has changed - non-members wanting to use the new digital entry process need to note that digital submission closes on 15th January.
  • physical entry via the normal Receiving Day on 22nd February is still available to non-members if digital entry is not possible
The Annual Exhibition will be in the Aldersgate Room of Central Hall Westminster, Storey’s Gate, London SW1H 9NH between 15th and 23rd April 2016. There are a number of prizes (I got an Hon.Mention last year on one of them!) plus eligible works can be considered for a Certificate of Botanical Merit which is usually assessed by a botanist.

The theme of the exhibition is 'Shape, Pattern, Structure' all important aspects of the diversity of growth habit and the range of shapes and colours in plants and flowers

The lovely artwork for the exhibition flyer is A Passion for Peonies by Billy Showell
What follows is my overview and digest of the terms and conditions of entry for the 2016 exhibition. You can the digital entry form and more information on this page on the website.

Please note that any errors of interpretation are mine and that all those submitting to the exhibition should rely on the formal SBA paperwork not line!

Eligible artwork

Who can enter?

There are no constraints on age or where you live with respect to who can enter. Every year, the exhibition includes artwork from international artists.

Application for membership via exhibition: There are special conditions for those wanting to apply for membership or associate membership and details of these conditions can be found on the second page of the Terms and Conditions leaflet.
To become an Associate member, an artist must establish a record of accepted work showing a consistent standard: the minimum period required to establish this record is two years which means that the artist must have submitted five works and had ALL five works accepted for two consecutive years: that is ten out of ten works accepted in total over two successive years. 

International Artists

One of the members of the SBA offers a service such that unframed pictures may be sent which can be framed in the UK (see terms and conditions page 4 for further details)

The Society will not take responsibility for payment of any importation charges or duties.

Artists who are not normally resident and taxable in the UK can submit work but will need to register for VAT if the work sells at the exhibition.

For those unfamiliar with the process this is my blog post about VAT for non-UK artists and UK exhibition organisers

What can you enter

All work entered must be for sale - so don't enter anything which you want to hang on to for another exhibition!  You won't get any physical work back until 25 April irrespective of whether or not it is selected for the exhibition.

All work must be completely original and produced by the person who signs the submission form.  Any copies of any work of any other artist, either living or dead, could result in prosecution.

Eligible artwork is as follows
  • 2D Works: paintings, drawings or miniature work. Acceptable media includes: watercolour, pencil, coloured pencil, pastel, oil, gouache, mixed media, 
  • 3d Works: sculpture, , glass engraving, ceramics, jewellery, carving, metal-work, etc etc. 
  • Media excluded: No photography or digital work will be considered for the time being. 
  • Style: works can reflect habitat and environment as well as adopting the more conventional style of traditional botanical illustration and plant portraiture, 
  • Size: The size of the subject matter may be life-size, reduced or enlarged. However the maximum size of work is 48" on the longest length of the exterior frame size
  • Maximum number of works: You can enter up to five works but only four works by non-members will be hung
The expectation is that all work will be presented in a professional manner. The detailed requirements can be found in the terms and conditions in the section on Presentation and labelling of work.

How to enter

To enter you need to submit the work, the entry schedule and a fee.  


The SBA had have had - until this year - a very complex system of fees - for entry and hanging with variations in what was charged depending on the size of the entry and what was accepted for exhibition. It must have been a nightmare to administer!

This year the fee is uniform for all entries and covers both submission and hanging fee

Minimum Price and what it applies to

Last year the SBA introduced a minimum price for artwork above a certain size.  This continues this year. I assume the objective is to eliminate medium/large works with low prices - which are inappropriate in a London exhibition.

  • If a hanging work measures more than 15" on its longest framed dimension the minimum price must be at least £350
  • The minimum price of £350 does not apply to hanging work measuring less than 15" on the longest length of the frame, or to miniatures, 3D-work or etchings. 

Price including VAT
  • If an artist is personally registered for VAT, then the VAT due on the selling price of the works should be included in the catalogue price.


Fees are based on the size of the longest length of exterior dimensions
  • A non-refundable digital pre-submission fee is £15 per work, payable on line on submission. 
  • No other fees will be charged


Commission is charged as follows:
  • 42 per cent on ALL work related to the exhibition i.e. 
    • on the catalogue price on sales at the exhibition 
    • OR resulting in any way from the exhibition ie. copyright, commissions for work, licenses, prints and reproductions of any kind
  • 10 per cent on work resulting at any time from enquiries to, or recommendations by, the Society, or commissioned through the Society. (i.e. unrelated to the exhibition)
  • all works sold are subject to 42% commission
  • any work commissioned as a result of the exhibition is subject to a 42% commission

Payments for sold work

  • payments for sold work will be made within two months of the end of the exhibition

Digital submission

This year, the SBA are inviting non-members to use a digital submission process. I understand that the process will be mandatory from 2016 for both members and non-members so it's an excellent idea to give it a go this year - and to note the difference the process makes to the dates and timeline for entries

The other main advantages for those using this process are that: IF your artwork is NOT accepted then you save money due to no need to frame and no need to spend money on transport or a courier to submit work on the Receiving Day

There are major benefits for international artists if they can get the work to the UK and framed for the Receiving Day after the results of the digital pre-selection are announced on 31 January.

The process is:
What type and size of image?

Actual image - the form requires
  • Actual image size: size requested in the entry is the ACTUAL size of the real image (i.e. height x width in cms)
  • Actual media: this must be stated eg watercolour
Digital image to be submitted:
  • Digital format: supplied in jpeg format (NOT tif, gif or psd)
  • Digital image size: longest length - 1000 pixels wide (NOTE: Smaller images will be rejected)
  • Digital file size: no limit stated
  • Digital resolution: no more than 150 dpi 
  • Digital file name: must identify artist and artwork

Receiving day

SBA 2016 Receiving Day is 22 February 2016. Entries will be booked in at the Aldersgate Room at Westminster Central Hall. The SBA provides a list of couriers you can use.

This applies to
  • all work by members 
  • plus all work digitally pre-selected plus any work from non-members 
All works must be presented - unwrapped - with the printed out digital entry form or the paper entry schedule (and £15 fee for those unable to submit digitally)

Couriers bringing multiple works will be allowed to unpack in the Gallery. 


Submission and selection

  • 15 December 2015 Digital pre-selection starts 
  • 15 January 2016 Deadline for digital submission (nearly 4 weeks from today)
  • 31 January 2016 Notification of results of digital pre-selection. You then have three weeks to get your work framed and transport or a courier organised
  • 22 February 2016 Receiving Day for pre-selected works from 11am to 4pm 
  • 23 February 2016 Selection of work (at Central Hall Westminster)


  • 14 April 2016 Private View from 11am to 7.00pm 
  • 15 to 23 April 2016 Exhibition open 11am to 5pm including Sundays 
  • 25 April 2016 Collection of unaccepted and unsold work from Aldersgate Room, 10am to 3pm. Artists must bring their own packing.
Note there is only one collection date for both unsold and unaccepted work. Hence the advantage of using the digital selection process if there are other places you'd like to show your work.


Note that the General conditions of entry provide the name and contact details for Mrs Pamela Henderson, Executive Secretary SBA who looks after a lot of the entry process. Any queries should be addressed to her.

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