Wednesday, January 04, 2017

RA Summer Exhibition 2017 - Call For Entries

Today's the day that entry forms go on sale for the world's largest open art competition - the 2017 Summer Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts!

This post is for:
  • for those who have NOT submitted before;
  • for those who have need a reminder of what they need to do; and
  • all those who need to be reminded why entry effectively closes BEFORE the deadline!
NEW This year five of the eight selectors (62%) are women! I'm racking my brains and I can't remember the last time, if any, since the proportion of women selectors was this high.

Outside Burlington House during last year's RA Summer Exhibition

This is a LONG POST providing an overview of:
  • The Call for Entries Process
    • who can enter
    • what you can enter
    • the website and key documents you need to know about 
    • how to enter: the timeline and process
    • how the RA helps prospective entrants make a good job of their entry
    • why it's important not to delay making a start on your application
  • The Selection Process
    • how it works
    • Who's doing the selection and hang this year 
    • who's chairing the Panel (and I met her and had a chat at the back end of last year)
  • The Summer Exhibition - including
    • links at the end to my previous reviews of Summer Exhibitions at the RA - which include images so you can see what you're up against.
  • TIPS: how not to get caught out - things to beware of and things to think about
  • Anything NEW or changes I've spotted - compared to previous years - are also highlighted below in the relevant section. 

I probably haven't spotted all of them so if you can see any more please leave a comment and I will update this post.

Call for Entries Process - who/what/how and FAQs

The Basics

First the basics:
  • The How to Enter website is
  • Buy your entry form NOW!  This is the first day they are available for sale 
    • You cannot enter if you've not bought one
    • Once the first 12,000 forms have been sold, that's it. No more will be issued...
    • don't leave thinking about your entry to the last minute!
Last year, entries sold out before the deadline so we encourage artists to purchase theirs as soon as possible.
  • Submission is digital - follow this process
    • EITHER You need to register first - and should do this now! This is the application form to register as an individual artist. You must ALSO activate the account (click the link in the email you will receive) 
    • AND/OR Login to your account (if you've submitted work in 2016 you can use the same account again)
    • Buy your Entry Form / pay the fee - one for each work (The link for purchasing a form will be available from Wednesday 4 January) You cannot get a refund and you cannot transfer the form to someone else.
There are two types of Entry Form: one for submitting one Work and another for submitting two Works. 
    • Fill in your artwork details using the online form. You can do this at a later date prior to the deadline once you've bought a form
    • Upload image(s) of your artwork
  • Deadline for Entries23:59 on Wednesday 15 February 2017. To complete your submission by that date you MUST have:
    • Stage 1: paid the non-refundable fee and got access to the digital online entry form (one for each work). 
    • Stage 2a: completed entry details and submitted the digital entry form (previously purchased).
    • Stage 2b: uploaded digital images of the artwork.
    • Late submissions and/or excuses are not accepted.
  • Who can enter: Anyone.  So long as you bought your entry form in time... (see below)
    • There are no constraints on age or where you live. 
    • You can enter as a member of a collaboration (but your membership of that collaboration counts towards the limit on your entries)
    • You can even be anonymous and use a pseudonym. 
    • (However if live outside the EU you will need to read this notice about VAT Information - International Artists (PDF) or your work won't get assessed.)
  • No. of works you can enter:  Two - that's 
    • two on your own 
    • or one on your own and one as a member of a collaboration 
    • or two which resulted from a collaboration. 
    • It costs you £25 to enter one work (£50 for two)
  • What you can enter
    • The exhibition showcases painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, architecture and film.
    • Artwork must be original and capable of being exhibited. You either own the copyright or have all required permissions in writing.
By submitting a Work(s) when You are the Artist of such Work(s), You confirm that You hold all intellectual property rights in the Work(s) and that You have obtained any third party consents required for the use of third party owned material contained in the Work(s).
  • Ineligible works - what you cannot enter
    The following types of work are inadmissible:
    • works that are over the specified size limit of 244 x 350cm (excluding sculpture and architectural models, where any one part of a large sculpture or architecture model should not exceed 200cm on the longest side and the total weight may be no more than 3,000kg when packed);
    • works that have already been exhibited in a major institution in London (excluding prints);
    • printed reproductions of original artworks;
    • works that contain noxious or toxic substances, have flammability below 50°c or incorporate dangerous electrical appliances;
    • editions of sculptures cast in materials that are different to the materials of the exhibited work

The Important Documents

These are the basic MUST READ carefully documents listed under Helpful Links at the side of this page


The Selection Process

The selection process starts before you've even submitted an application. That's because
  • only 12,000 entries will be accepted and 
  • you can't enter unless you have bought an entry form!

Selecting a Shortlist of 4,000

Only one third (4,000) of the digital entries will be shortlisted for the second round of selection. This section covers:
  • who judges the entries
  • how you get the results for your initial submission
  • what happen

Selected and hung

  • c.1100-1200 works will be included in the exhibition which also includes works by RA members. 
  • Some two-thirds of the works included in the Summer Exhibition are likely to come from the Open Submission - that's c.725-800 artworks.

Key facts about selection:
All submitted digital images of works, and shortlisted works, will be placed before the Summer Exhibition Selection Committee.
  • The Hanging Committee changes every year. Views as to what merits selection is very much influenced by the individuals judging work. That means your work may be selected this year even if it has not made the cut in previous years. I'm generally impressed by the selectors' owen websites - it should make for a very interesting exhibition.
  • Members of the Hanging Committee ONLY select works within their area of expertise. (see below)
Eileen Cooper RA
The Summer Exhibition Co-ordinator 2017 is Eileen Cooper and she has responsibility for how the exhibition is organised and the overall look. 
She's also the Keeper of the Royal Academy. I met her at the Derwent Art Prize last year and had a chat with her about various RA matters and was most impressed with her. I'm sure she will make an excellent exhibition co-ordinator.

The Selection and Hanging Committee 2017 comprises: Ann Christopher, Gus Cummins, Bill Jacklin, Farshid Moussavi, Fiona Rae, Rebecca Salter and Yinka Shonibare

Hence works will be judged  as follows:
In 2017, the Architecture Room at the RA Summer Exhibition will celebrate architecture as an “instruction-based art”.  
Contributors/exhibitors are invited to send in construction coordination drawings that show the interrelationships and full complexity of the different systems and parts of buildings, preferably with each system colour coded. Such drawings will present a rare view of buildings to the public, as if inviting them ‘backstage" in a theatre.
  • They may ALL judge audio-visual works - BUT only in relation to its relevance to their category.

First Round Results 

  • 16 March - first round of judging (from digital images) 

Delivery of shortlisted works for Judging

  • Sculpture 9 May 8am – 7pm
  • Architecture (Models and wall-based Work) 10 May 8am – 5pm
  • Two-dimensional work (Artist’s Book, Drawing, Painting, Photograph, Print, Mixed Media, Watercolour) 
    • 11 May 10am – 7pm
    • 12 May 8am – 5pm

Second Round Results

  • 18 May - second round of judging (from shortlisted work) 
  • 27 May - final results - who got hung!

The Summer Exhibition 2017

In 2017 the Summer Exhibition opens to the public on 12 June and closes on 20 August 2017.  Prior to this there will be several days of previews for the thousands of Friends of the RA.

The Summer Exhibition takes place in the Main Galleries of Burlington House, the home of the Royal Academy of Arts.

You can see what previous exhibitions have looked like in my reviews of them (on this Blog) in past posts listed below.

Previous reviews of the Summer Exhibition

Key facts:

  • The exhibition has been held every year since 1769! This is the 249th Annual Summer Exhibition at the RA.
  • It's a money raiser - the submission fees and commissions fund the organisation of the exhibition PLUS the activities of the RA Schools and other exhibitions put on by the RA
  • Prizes: prizes valued at c.£65,000 were on offer in 2016 (see FAQs).  This was heading back up to previous levels after a dip of some £20k in 2015.
  • The RA charges commission but does not conclude the sale. You need to pay 30% for every sale concluded but the RA introduces you to the buyer, takes a deposit and you are then responsible for making sure the sale is concluded and the buyer gets their artwork.
Some of the prints in the 2016 Summer Exhibition


These are a combination of normal remonstrations about things that can get you in trouble and and things that occurred to me while writing this post.


Summer Exhibition Specific

  • Don't misuse your Entry Form once bought - it's just not worth it. There are always other years....
In the event of misuse of Your Entry Form, where it transpires that You have used more than one Entry Form, the RA reserves the right to ban You from entering the forthcoming Exhibition and any Exhibition in the future.
  • Don't mess with legal title or copyright - your work should EITHER be your own completely original work OR if it has been derived from the work of others you need to be able to demonstrate that you have the permission to use that work - otherwise you might foot the bill for legal costs for yourself AND the RA in the event of a dispute.
If You do not own all of the rights, title and interest in and to the Work, You must expressly inform the RA in writing of all relevant details concerning all other third parties’ rights to the Work. You shall indemnify the RA against all losses, liabilities, costs and expenses in respect of claims made by third parties alleging partial or total ownership of the Work or any rights in the Work, including intellectual property rights.
  • Don't let your gallery confuse the issue - You gallery cannot submit a work on your behalf unless it has already obtained your express WRITTEN authorisation to do so. So if you have any discussions with your gallery about submitting work, make sure you are 100% clear as to who is taking the lead and who is doing the paperwork.
  • If you're stuck on pricing:
This is what the stacks look like for work waiting to be hung in the Summer Exhibition 
- seen while traversing the building on a guided tour of changes due to the new development 

The use of simple, neutral coloured frames is strongly encouraged. 
  • When it comes to framing:
    • All two-dimensional works submitted must be framed - and you need to pad the corners for the stacks
    • if you submit an unframed work, this is strictly at your own risk.
    • you only have to frame one print - you can sell further prints from from the edition without a frame
    • The FAQs seem to be at odds with the Entry Rules. Latter says all 2D must be framed while the FAQs suggest that you are not required to frame works in acrylic or oil however the Royal Academy cannot accept liability for such works and it suggests that you submit your work in a travel frame to protect it in the stacks prior to hanging. I'll try querying this and you might like to do so as well!
    • You can also consult the section on How to Frame Your Art on my Art Business Info website
  • If you are submitting prints - A large percentage of the c.5,000+ works sold at some summer exhibitions relate to the repeat sales of limited edition fine art prints. Fine Art Prints typically do extremely well in terms of sales because they are more affordable. However if you don't want to be out of pocket on postage and packing....

All prices stated in the Entry Form should include UK postage and packing for sending unframed editions of prints to purchasers.
  • If you are NOT legally resident in the UK - i.e. you are classified as an individual without a UK residence, do check out the situation with respect to VAT and READ VAT Information - International Artists (PDF) - their guide is good
  • If you draw buildings - don't enter your work in the architecture category simply because it's a building. 
    • To qualify for the architecture section a drawing needs to represent a set of construction instructions. 
    • Farshid Moussavi is Professor in Practice of Architecture at Harvard University Graduate School of Design and you should READ HER detailed note about Submitting your architecture work to the 2017 Summer Exhibition
    • She will NOT be judging any drawings in the Drawings Category - which is where non-technical construction-oriented drawings of buildings should be submitted.
    • I'm taking this to mean that (1) people who like drawing buildings thought up a new wheeze for getting their work into the Summer Exhibition and (2) Professor Moussavi is reclaiming the architecture category for genuine architecture - which means (3) "other" artworks which may have crept in to this category will need to find a new home!

Specific queries

For specific questions on the process not answered in the Entry Rules, Terms and Conditions, FAQs document, Note for Printmakers, VAT for International Artists, Lists of Couriers etc you will need to email the RA Summer Exhibition Team via the 'Contact Us' website form. Note that replies may take up to 3 working day.

I strongly recommend you make very sure that the answer is not aavailable in the information they supply before asking your question. There's very rarely anything new under the sun! :)

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