Monday, May 24, 2021

Call for Entries: Society of Women Artists 160th Open Exhibition

This is about the call for entries for the 160th Annual Open Exhibition 2021 of the Society of Women Artists (SWA).

Call for entries for the SWA open annual exhibition online

Like a number of other societies, this annual exhibition will be a virtual / online exhibition this year.

The SWA normally exhibit at the Mall Galleries - but given the number of months the Galleries have been closed due to lockdown, the priority for exhibiting art societies in 2021 obviously goes to the Societies which are members of the Federation of British Artists whose home is at the Mall Galleries.

Plus a digital submission means that an artist can submit artwork for exhibition MINUS travelling, transport and the framing costs.

Online Exhibition dates are as follows

  • Deadline for all Digital Entries: midnight on 25 June 2021 i.e. you have a month left to submit your entry (Note: I hate midnight timings - I never know whether they mean the beginning or end of the day. "Noon" is much clearer).
  • Notification of Selection (ONLINE ONLY): 16th July 2021 
  • Online Exhibition Opens: 21st September 2021.
  • Exhibition Closes: Sunday 29th September 2021.

I didn't review last year's exhibition as this was also online - and I'm finding reviewing online art much more difficult than exhibitions in galleries. However, you can see the standard of work this exhibition attracts in my Review: Society of Women Artists Annual Exhibition 2019

In this post you can find:

  • who is eligible to enter
  • what types of artwork are eligible
  • how to enter - with key dates
  • details of the exhibition
  • details of the prizes

but, first, why enter this exhibition? 

Why enter the SWA Annual Exhibition?

The Society of Women Artists have been on an important journey of improvement in recent years. It's one which provides lessons for other art societies.

As I've indicated in past reviews, the quality of the artwork in their exhibitions has improved enormously and there has been a greater involvement by professional women artists.  The change in the quality of the work also gave me the impression that selection had become much more rigorous and being a favoured member/friends was no longer enough to get your work selected.

I think the change has also been in part due to an injection of new and younger blood - with artists keen to "make their mark" and wanting the exhibition to be excellent - and are keen to use websites and social media to promote their art. In turn this is also reflected in a more contemporary "younger" feel to a lot of the artwork - which in turn draws a wider audience to the exhibition and helps improve sales! (It's a lesson which many other art societies might ponder on!)

There's also a keen sense of the exhibition being a place where women artists can exhibit work on themes with meaning to women - which might get overlooked by panels where men make up the majority of the members.

"Parting" by non-member Ayna Paisley
(from the 2020 online exhibition)
Acrylics, Paper Collage h: 70 w: 150 d: 4 (cms)
currently used for the Home Page of the SWA website

Two (financial) benefits are is that 

  • submitting digitally to an online exhibition enables artists to submit works for consideration at a reduced cost - without the travelling, transport and the framing costs. 
  • ENTRY FEES HAVE BEEN REDUCED for this online exhibition! 

Plus finally - there are PRIZES AND AWARDS! These are the 2021 awards.

  • Princess Michael of Kent Award - A signed certificate
  • President and Vice Presidents’ Award - A signed certificate
  • The Tom Urwin Special Fine Art Award - £1500
  • Karin Walker Young Artist Award - 2 x £500
  • Derwent Special Fine Art Award
    • Young Artist £500 (art materials) Awards
    • Established Artist £500 (art materials) Awards
  • The Artist Editor’s Choice Award, Feature in The Artist
  • The Rosemary and Co Award £100 (brushes)
  • Patsy Whiting Award £100
  • Jackson’s Award £150 (art materials)


Call for Entries for the SWA's Annual Online Exhibition 2021

Below is a summary of that page - with some facts rearranged. 
Do not forget that the basic fact is that EVERYTHING is digital - communication, entries, images, and the exhibition. If you're not happy with digital then maybe this is not for you - or you need a friend who can help you.

Who can enter

  • The exhibition is INTERNATIONAL i.e. open to artists in the UK, EU, and outside the EU 
  • There is no stated restriction on who can enter. However, this is an exhibition of work by women artists!
  • Women artists under the age of 35 are judged to be young artists and can submit work at a reduced fee.

What you can enter

What follows are the rules of what you can submit and what you need to know before you get on to the 'how to enter' section.

Categories of work which are acceptable:
  • Paintings, pastels, drawings;
  • Mixed media
  • Sculpture, in all media;
  • Original unique printing is acceptable e.g. engraving, lithography. Etchings must show their plate indentations. Commercially printed line work or photographically/digitally reproduced work printed with commercial machines (such as giclée work) is NOT admissible.
  • Ceramics, glass and metal not of a utilitarian nature. 

This year, there is NO MAXIMUM submission size for paintings and sculpture. All works will be judged by merit. 

All artwork accepted and exhibited online by SWA MUST be 

  • for sale, except by prior consent from the SWA. 
  • EXCLUSIVE for the duration of the exhibition - which means that the commission is still payable even if it is listed and sold via another platform during the exhibition.

Artwork prices should include the commission of 45% for non members and 40% for members the SWA will be donating 5% of the sale price to the Charity Breast Cancer Now. 

Minimum Sale prices for works (excluding courier costs)

  • £150 for etchings or lithography or drawings
  • £200 for 3D works
  • £350 for everything else.

Please also note that all retail prices MUST include VAT if applicable and ALL artists liable to VAT are responsible for paying their own tax direct to HMRC. 

All costs of transport to a buyer will be payable by the buyer and accurate costs will need to be quoted to a buyer before a sale is concluded. So you need to know what the cost of packing and shipping is before you enter - or ASAP after you get selected.
[Note it does not say this in the Call for Entries - but this is how it needs to work if transactions are to be compliant with all relevant regulations for trade and ecommerce]


  • All artists without a UK residence are classified as Non-Established Taxable Persons (NETPs) and must register with HMRC (HM Revenue + Customs) for a UK VAT number before they can exhibit artworks in our Online Exhibition. 
  • A valid UK VAT number is prefaced with the letters “GB”. VAT numbers relating to other countries are not valid for the purposes of this exhibition.
  • You must provide the SWA with your UK VAT number before 1st September 2021. If you do not, your selected artwork(s) cannot be displayed online in the exhibition.
  • see General Terms and Conditions for more details

How to enter

This is the page where you can find details of how to enter and the terms and conditions

  • Entry is digital and online by the deadline for entry via
  • deadline for entries is noon on the 20th June 2021
  • log back in on 16th July to find out if you have been successful
  • Submission Fees for non-members have been REDUCED due to the online nature of the exhibition and are:
    • £8 per work payable at the time of registering online - irrespective of the size, type of media of the artwork
    • or £6 per work for artists aged 35 or under.
    • FREE to all SWA members.
The quality of the image of the artwork is critical to 

In relation to your entry:

  • You should make sure your image is accurate, sharp and cropped properly (i.e. exclude all backgrounds and frames)
  • Image files should be JPG or PNG and no more than 5MB large. Upload time will depend on your internet connection speed so please be patient. 
  • If you are having problems uploading your images, please use image editing software to resize your image to approximately 1600 pixels wide and then save as a new file. Image file names should not be too long and should not contain any invalid characters such as ' " & % * ( ) < > / \ ~ # + = 
  • The SWA recommends The Royal Academy's excellent guide to aid you with photography. This is a link to the video This is a PDF of the RA Guide How to Photograph your work

[Note: You can also refer to my NEW PAGE about Photography of Art for Artists on my Art Business Info for Artists website]

Selection of Art for Online Exhibition

  • Entries will be selected by a panel of judges for inclusion to the online exhibition. 
  • You will need to log back on to on the 16th of July to find out if your work has been accepted. (i.e. there is no correspondence)

Sales of Art

You should particularly note that YOU THE ARTIST are responsible for:
  • the contract of sale of art to the buyer
  • the invoice
  • the transport of artwork to the buyer using a reputable carrier.
10. Commercial carriers - can be used to deliver works to buyers where necessary, please see the list of trusted experienced carriers below. These are no part of the SWA and must be contacted and dealt with directly.
  • Customs - and ensuring the artwork has all appropriate paperwork and tariff code to get through Customs. You also need to make it clear to the buyer that the buyer is responsible for any additional duties payable on import.
[I'm going to have a chat with the SWA about making it clearer how the money transactions work] 


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