Want to get into the RWA Annual Open Exhibition? Read this!

Annual Open Submission Guidance

If you're submitting work for the 166 RWA Annual Open Exhibition, then you might like to read this first.

Each year a selection panel assesses every entry and last year 624 works by 421 artists made it into the final exhibition. But how do the selection panel choose which art gets through? 

We put together a series of questions for the Annual Open Selection Panel to shed some light on the matter. Here's what two of our judges had to say (keep your eye on our blog - there will be more to follow!)

 

Stephen Jacobson VPRWA

 

What advice would you give to an unknown or emerging artist considering submitting their work?

I would recommend they visit the exhibition in the year prior to their application to get a feel for the work shown. They should also check out the selectors to be sure there will be sympathetic assessment of their work

What makes an artwork stand out from the crowd?

There is such a variety of work submitted that it is hard for anything to ’stand out’. Very large pieces and incongruous materials will generate curiosity, but this is not always positive.

What do you assess the artworks on? 

This is very subjective. Virtuosity is not the main criterion; there are often pieces that have been immaculately produced but lack meaning. Whereas ‘badly’ executed works can be exciting, humorous or honest and can make for exciting exhibits. The aim of the artist has to be recognised and this will affect the judgment of the panel.

What's been one of the most memorable submissions from previous years?

I particularly liked the work of Susan Derges who was a selector and invited artist in 2016.

What are you looking for this year?

I don’t set out to look for anything specific. I try to keep an open mind and vote for work I think worthy of a place in a national exhibition as prestigious as the RWA Open is. I always ask myself how the piece would stand up in the Royal Academy or any of the other London museums and galleries.

 

Fiona Robinson RWA

What advice would you give to an unknown or emerging artist considering submitting their work?

Always submit your absolutely best work. Work that you believe in and which is true to yourself and what you do. Don't try and second guess what the selectors might choose because of their practice. 

What makes an artwork stand out from the crowd?

It can be many different things but it has a certain something which draws the eye and demands a second look. Something that captures the imagination. It might be a certain quality of line, an  understanding of process, materials, of colour or composition. It isn't necessarily the bright and brash works that clamour for attention that are selected, modest quiet works make an equal impact in amongst all that visual noise. 

What do you assess the artworks on? 

Work is always assessed on its  quality and a level of facility with materials and technique as well as evidence of an intellectual engagement with the process and a seriousness of intent. 

What's been one of the most memorable submissions from previous years?

There are many excellent submissions every year. 

What are you looking for this year?

I will be looking for works that are fresh and original, that surprise, delight, take risks and that challenge.