Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Call for Entries: Pastel Society Annual Exhibition 2024

The Pastel Society has published its Call for Entries for its 125th Annual Exhibition in January next year.

The Pastel Society seeks the best in contemporary pastel and dry media, combining technical skill with creative originality for the Society's 125th Exhibition.
This is an OPEN ART EXHIBITION. If you submit and are selected for the exhibition your artwork will be
  • included in the catalogue
  • seen by visitors to the Mall Galleries - and it gets a lot of visitors
  • viewed online via the Mall Galleries website and that of the Pastel Society - before, during and after the Exhibition
  • eligible for a number of prizes & awards.
READ ON If you work in pastels, oil pastels, charcoal, pencil, conte, sanguine, or any other dry media and would like to achieve a higher profile for your artwork - and maybe a sale or a prize!

The 125th Annual Exhibition of the Pastel Society: 
SUMMARY of the Call for Entries

  • Artists are invited to submit work for exhibition alongside members of the Pastel Society
  • All submissions are online. 
  • DEADLINE for entries - for a digital image, application form and fee - is noon on Friday 24 November 2023
  • All artwork submitted is judged virtually, after which selected works should be delivered to Mall Galleries, London, for inclusion in the exhibition
  • Exhibition Dates: 23rd January (PV Day - Invite only) to Saturday 10th February 2024.
  • Venue: Mall Galleries, The Mall, London

Below you can find MY version of the Call for Entries. Note that:
  • it includes TIPS and additional comments which those who have not entered before may find useful.
  • Some of those who have entered before and been unsuccessful might also like to have a read.

Submission: key dates and points to note

ALL artworks must be submitted online. 
It means that the quality of your digital image is ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL.

REQUIRED READING: On the Mall Galleries website you can find:
Note: The Frequently Asked Questions Page (FAQs) appears to have disappeared from the website.

TIP: If you don't read all the relevant information, do NOT be surprised or irritated if your entry is not selected.

Below is a summary of the stages of entry.

1. ELIGIBLE ARTISTS: Who can enter?

This is an OPEN exhibition and is not limited to work by members.
This exhibition also has works exhibited by people who live outside the UK.
  • 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

2. HOW TO ENTER (SUMMARY): Digital submission ONLY

  • Submission opened: Friday 15th September 2023, 12 noon
  • Submission DEADLINE: You must complete the registration form, pay your fee and upload your digital image (see below) no later than Friday 24 November 2023, 12 noon
  • Upload entries and pay fees via www.mallgalleries.oess1.uk
  • Check www.mallgalleries.oess1.uk from 12 noon on Wednesday 6 December to see if your work has been pre-selected
  • More details below
Artists are recommended to submit well in advance of the deadline to allow time for assistance with their application if required.

Pastel Society Annual Exhibition 2023

3. ELIGIBLE MEDIA: What can you use for your artwork?

The Society accepts all types of pastel, chalk or crayon including soft pastels, hard pastels, oil pastels, ink pastels, water-based pastels, conté crayons or sticks, sanguine, and similar dry mediums including charcoal and pencil. Mixed media works are welcome where pastel or another dry media is the primary medium. From Call for Entries / My Bold
  • Acceptable media: All types of pastel - see above
  • All artwork must be glazed
  • All artworks must be exhibition-ready i.e. presented ready for hanging. Works should be sufficient to withstand mirror plating for hanging purposes.

4. Inadmissible artwork (i.e. WHAT NOT TO DO)

  • No hooks are required
  • No projections whatsoever from the back of the works.
  • Metal frames and clip frames are inadmissible.
  • Glazed works with unprotected glass edges are inadmissible.
  • Diffused picture glass is unacceptable. 
  • Frames and mounts of an unusual colour, size or design may prejudice the chance of selection.
TIP: It's very silly to get selected and then not have your artwork hung because you didn't comply with the technical requirements for hanging!

5. TECHNICAL: What it costs (excluding framing and delivery)

TIP: ALWAYS work out the costs of entry before entering.  
  • READ my worksheet How to cost a juried exhibition entry
  • Higher priced artwork may help offset the costs - however affordable art sells better (see more tips on pricing at the end) - especially during a cost of living crisis!
  • Consider entries to the annual exhibitions of national art societies as more of a  MARKETING activity rather than a selling activity - because of what can be very significant additional costs compared to you selling direct to customers or you selling locally.
In relation to this Pastel Society Exhibition:
  • Entry Fee: The non-refundable submission fee is £20 per work for standard entries and £14 per work for artists aged 35 or under.
  • All work must be for sale. Minimum price: £400. (Note: This has been increased from £300 for the last exhibition - which I personally think is a big mistake given the record of sales across various FBA Societies where sales under £500 are good)
  • Commission: The price of works MUST include 45% commission + VAT. (see below)
  • VAT: the standard rate of 20% is charged on the commission ONLY by the Mall Galleries. 
  • EXAMPLE: IF you are a non-VAT registered artist what this means is
    • on a minimum priced artwork (£400) the commission is £180 if the artwork sells
    • VAT on that Commission @ 20% will be £36
    • Total deductions for a non-VAT registered artist will be £216
    • Balance due to the artist is paid by the gallery is £184 - which must cover direct expenses of art materials, framing and delivery before contributing to net income to the artist - on which tax is due!
  • If you are a VAT registered artist, then VAT is applicable to the TOTAL sale price i.e. VAT is £80 (on a minimum priced artwork) BUT you can then reclaim this against VAT you have paid on business expenses
  • If you are an international artist: you MUST be registered for VAT in the UK and VAT will be charged on the total price of the work. (see more at the end)
  • See also my Art Business Info Page - VAT for Artists for more information

Pastel Society Annual Exhibition 2023


5.  TECHNICAL: What to submit (artwork) - the nitty gritty

  • Images submitted with your online entry must be in JPEG format and under 5MB
  • Work must have been completed during the twelve months prior to the exhibition and not have been exhibited elsewhere.
  • Works should not be larger than 2.4m along the longest dimension.
  • Maximum of 6 works must be submitted online at https://mallgalleries.oess1.uk/
  • BUT.....Maximum of four works selected.
    • Four is exceptional. The average number of paintings per non-member artist selected is less than two and nearer 1. 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 and the average in 2021 was 1.3 overall 
TIP: The cost of your submission therefore depends on:
  • how good your work is;
  • 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
  • how much you want to become a member of this society
  • Whether you've done your homework on costs of entry

6. Selection / Feedback

A single-stage virtual judging of all submitted works will take place, after which selected works should be delivered to Mall Galleries, London, for inclusion in the exhibition so long as they are fit for hanging (my underlining)
The Selection Committee is formed of artist members of the Society and is rotated annually.

Check mallgalleries22.oess1.uk from 12 noon on Thursday 6 April to see if your work has been selected.

There's no feedback for those not selected - but I find visiting the exhibition provides a LOT of information for the aspiring pastel artist about the kind of pastel artwork that does get selected.

TIP: You can also get feedback (of a sort) in advance of submitting an entry by looking back at 
  • my reviews of past exhibitions and seeing what sort of artwork gets selected (see end of this post)
  • photographs of Pastel Society Exhibitions - in my Facebook Albums

Pastel Society Annual Exhibition 2023

7. Delivery of Artwork (pre-selected artists ONLY)

If selected, you must arrange for your work to be framed and insured prior to delivery 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.
  • Packaging from delivered works cannot be retained by the Gallery.
  • ALL packaging must be taken away at the point of delivery.
  • RECEIVING DAY: Deliver your work on either Friday 12 January or Saturday 13 January 2024, (10am to 5pm)

8. Exhibition Dates / Hours

  • Exhibition opens: Wednesday 24 January, 10am to 5pm daily
  • Exhibition closes: Saturday 10 February, 5pm

9. Collection of unsold artwork after the exhibition

  • COLLECT all unsold work: Thursday 15 February, 10am to 5pm (an arrangement which is far from ideal for all those not living in London - unless you pay an art courier!)
  • The Gallery also does NOT 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.
  • International artists should use a picture carrier.
  • Mall Galleries provides details re art couriers in the Terms and Conditions
  • See also my Art Business Info for Artists website which provides details of ​UK Art Movers & Couriers & Fine Art Transport Services

Prizes & Awards (subject to final confirmation)

There are a number of prizes and awards available to win, including:

Cash prizes:

  • £2,000 prize for the best non-member picture in the exhibition
  • The Yoshimoto Prize: A prize of £1,000 for an outstanding work, in any dry medium, by a non-member
  • President's Prize: £500 for the best work by a non-member under 35
  • The Bob Last Prize: Value £400.  A prize for a work that celebrates the spirit of the late Bob Last (1932-2020), a long-standing member of the Pastel Society 
  • The Pastel Society Young Artist Award: £200
  • The Anthony J. Lester Art Critic Award: A certificate and cheque for £50

Product prizes:

  • Caran d'Ache Award
  • Frank Herring Award
  • Henri Roche Award
  • Mamut Award
  • Schmincke Award
  • Unison Member Award: Set of 72 pastels
  • Unison Non-member Award: Set of 72 pastels
  • Unison Young Artist Award: Pastels up to £500 for the year, plus mentorship for 1 year by an Associate Artist of Unison Colour
  • West Design Award
  • The Pastel Society Visitors' Choice Award: The winning artist will receive Caran d'Ache pastel pencils

Publication prizes:

  • The Artist Magazine Award: A feature article in The Artist magazine
  • The Pastel Society Catalogue Award, First Prize: The winning work featured in the exhibition catalogue
  • The Pastel Society Catalogue Award, Second Prize: The winning work featured in the exhibition catalogue

FINAL TIPS for potential entrants

ESSENTIAL Read the FULL terms and conditions for entry on the Mall Galleries website carefully

Application process

  • 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.


  • Inexperienced artists - who are ignorant of market prices - very often overprice - which can make exhibiting art an expensive hobby.
  • More affordable art is more likely to sell - particularly at times when there is a cost of living crisis
    • Most non-members' paintings sell for less than £1,000
    • Smaller works priced around £500 or sell more easily (i.e. impulse buy)
    • Few non-oil paintings sell for more than £2,000 at the Mall Galleries - UNLESS you already have a VERY strong following and/or create excellent large pastels

Non UK artist (known as 'NETPs' - non-established taxable persons)

If you live outside the UK and your work is sold at the exhibition you have a LEGAL responsibility to register and account for UK VAT with H.M. Revenue & Customs at www.hmrc.gov.uk (HM Revenue & Customs Reference: Notice 700/1)
  • Make sure you read the conditions about VAT very carefully. You should address any questions you may have to the VAT Helpline on tel. no. 0300 200 3700 or Outside UK: +44 2920 501 261.
  • Please note: the registration process can take up to 4 weeks. 
  • Do NOT  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!
  • If you use a picture carrier - make sure framed work can be submitted UNWRAPPED and collected, wrapped and returned to you (if unsold).

Past posts about Pastel Society Exhibitions

Below you can review previous posts about Pastel Society exhibitions - from my archives.
As you can see I've reviewed this exhibition every year since 2006!

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