Thursday, September 26, 2019

121st Pastel Society Annual Exhibition 2020: Call for Entries

If you work in pastels, oil pastels, charcoal, pencil, conte, sanguine, or any other dry media you can submit your artwork to the 121st Annual Exhibition of The Pastel Society in February 2020.

The 121st Annual Exhibition will open on Wednesday 5 February and continue every day - from 10am to 5pm - until it closes at 3pm on Sunday 16 February 2020.  It's an open exhibition at the Mall Galleries and last year around a third of the art hung was selected from the Open Entry.
The Pastel Society seeks the best in contemporary dry media, combining traditional skills with creative originality
This is a summary of the Call for Entries for the 2020 Annual Exhibition
  • For full terms and conditions, click here.
  • The deadline for entries is Friday 1 November 2019, 12 noon

A view of part of the 120th Annual Exhibition in the Main Gallery at the Mall Galleries

Prizes & Awards 

The exhibition offers several prizes and awards, open to all participating artists, including £1,000 worth of art materials from exhibition sponsor Derwent. These include:

Cash prizes:

  • Unison Young Artist Award (£500)
  • Annie Longley Award (£250)
  • Buzzacott Award (£750)
  • The Pastel Society Young Artist Award (£200)
  • The Anthony J Lester Art Critic Award (£50)

Product prizes:

  • Derwent Award (worth £1,000)
  • Caran d'Ache Award
  • Frank Herring & Sons Award
  • Henri Roche Award
  • The Pastel Society Visitors' Choice Award
  • Royal Talens Award
  • Schmincke Award
  • Unison Member Award
  • Unison Non-member Award
  • West Design - Faber Castell Award

Publication prizes:

  • The Pastel Society Catalogue Award: First & Second Prize
  • The Artist Magazine Award
  • Artists & Illustrators Award

Dear Mall Galleries - I'm smiling - and you know why!


Who is eligible?

This is an OPEN exhibition and is not limited to work by members
  • Any artist over 18 may submit.
  • There is no restriction of where you live. It's open to artists in the UK, EU, and outside the EU and this exhibition often has works exhibited by people who live outside the UK.
However if you live outside the UK
If you are not a UK resident and your work is sold at the exhibition you have a responsibility to register and account for UK VAT with H.M. Revenue & Customs at, (HM Revenue & Customs Reference: Notice 700/1)

Eligible media

Acceptable media: Pastels, oil pastels, charcoal, pencil, conte, sanguine, or any dry media.
What's in a name? Not as much as you might think!

I'm personally of the view that the criteria ought to strictly limit artwork to DRY MEDIA in all its various forms (i.e. EXCLUDING oil pastels).

The inclusion of oil pastels always surprises me since oil pastels never really dry due to the use of a non-drying binder! A lot of artists also use solvents when working with them.

If the new watercolour sticks or the art marker sticks were called "pastels" would that mean that they too became eligible media?

Eligible artwork

  • Works should not be larger than 2.4m (7.8 feet) along the longest dimension.
  • Work must have been:
    • completed during the twelve months prior to the exhibition and
    • NOT have been exhibited elsewhere.
  • Number of works:
    • Maximum of six works submitted.
    • Maximum of four works selected.
  • All work must be for sale. Minimum price: £300 (The price of works must include 45%+VAT commission )

Mezzanine wall in the Pastel Society's 2019 Exhibition

Submission: key dates and points to note

ALL artworks must initially be submitted online.

The selection process involves two stages:
  • Online entries are digitally screened to create a long list of what's called "pre-selected entries" ("long list" would be so much more descriptive!).
  • The latter are then delivered - as framed works - to the Mall Galleries, London, for an appearance in front of the Selection Panel and a decision as to whether or not they make it on to the walls of the exhibition!
On the Mall Galleries website you can find:

Stage 1 - Digital submission

  • ALL work must be submitted online at
  • Work must have been completed during the twelve months prior to the exhibition and not have been exhibited elsewhere.
  • Submission fee is £18 per work (£12 per work for artists aged 35 or under). This includes Free Admission to the exhibition (normally £4).
  • Images must be in JPEG format and under 5MB
  • Maximum of 6 works submitted BUT......
  • NOTE: the average number of paintings per non-member artist selected is less than two and nearer 1 (eg 1.3 in 2018; 1.4 in 2017)
    • those having more than one work selected are candidates for members 
    • serious candidates typically showed 2-3 works
    • hence in reality the majority of exhibiting non-members only have 1 artwork selected.
  • the cost of your submission therefore depends on 
    • (1) how good your work is; 
    • (2) how discriminating you are at submitting works with a good chance of being exhibited - and if you have not seen the exhibition in person I recommend you check out my posts at the end about past exhibitions 
    • (3) how much you want to become a member of this society
  • Maximum of four works selected. (Note that the average number of MEMBERS' works exhibited was just over 3 in 2018.)
    • Submission opened on 2nd September. 
    • You must complete the registration form, pay your fee and upload your digital image no later than Friday 1 November 2019, 12 noon 
  • CHECK to see if your work has passed the digital screening by logging on to from 12 noon on Friday 8th November 2019

Stage 2 (post digital screening)

  • IF PRE-SELECTED, you must now
    • get your work framed prior to delivery for the second round of selection.
    • deliver your work for the second round of the selection process to Mall Galleries, 17 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5BD
    • Works should be delivered unwrapped with forms and labels (i.e. packaging cannot be accepted or stored)
    • Artists sending work from abroad should use a picture carrier.
  • RECEIVING DAY: Deliver your work on Saturday 4th January 2020 between 10am - 5pm.
  • CHECK to see if your artwork has been selected for exhibition on Tuesday 7th January, 2020 from 12 noon.
  • COLLECT all unaccepted work on Thursday 9th January 2020, 10am - 5pm from Mall Galleries, 17 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5BD * see below for note

Stage 3 (post exhibition - if selected)

  • COLLECT any unsold work: Thursday 20th February 2020, 10am to 5pm *Due to a shortage of storage space at the gallery, any work uncollected by 5pm will be removed and stored at a separate location for which artists will be charged a storage fee.

Delivery & Collection

Packaging from delivered works cannot be retained by the Gallery and must be taken away at the point of delivery. They also cannot wrap works or provide wrapping materials for any works being returned. Any work uncollected on the specified collection date/s will be stored at a separate location and the artist will be charged a storage fee.

Artists sending work from abroad should use a picture carrier. See my website which provides details of ​UK Art Movers & Couriers& Fine Art Transport Services

Last year the exhibition celebrated 12 decades of The Pastel Society


The Selection Committee is formed of artist members of the Society and is rotated annually.
Please note that selectors' decisions are final and we are unable to offer feedback.

FINAL TIPS for potential entrants

  • Read the FULL terms and conditions for entry on the Mall Galleries website carefully
  • Don't leave registration and uploading your image to the last minute.
  • Measure your work precisely
  • Make sure the framed size does not render the work ineligible.
  • The price of Works stated must include the commission of 45% plus VAT
  • If you live outside the UK make sure
    • you read the conditions about VAT very carefully and don't think you can get away with skipping registration if it applies to you! This is both law and tax and this condition is NOT flexible!
    • you use a picture carrier - framed work can only be submitted UNWRAPPED.

More posts about the Pastel Society

You can review previous posts about Pastel Society exhibitions - from my archives. As you can see I've done 14 reviews of this exhibition!