Irelands largest and longest running exhibition of visual art, the RHA Annual Exhibition, returns for its 189th year! Open to the public, with free admission, from Monday 21 May the Annual Exhibition attracts a large audience with over 51,000 visitors during 2018 viewing works by 416 artists working in paint, sculpture, drawing, print, photography and architecture. A high point of Ireland’s cultural calendar, this exhibition has proven to be a great opportunity for both first time and experienced buyers alike.
Abigail O’Brien, RHA President,
“Artists are invited to submit their works for the RHA Annual Exhibition through an open submission process. This process can be very daunting for some and it is taken very seriously by the selection panel. A minimum of six Academy Members work together for a week with no disruptions and everyone has their own diverse ideas and opinions. Every piece is looked at twice by the selection committee and given time. There is a pre-selection where selected works are put into the category of Possible. These Possible works are then looked at again at the end of the week, selected from and the show is chosen. It is one of the last open submission shows where instead of looking at a digital piece, you are looking at the actual artwork.
100’s of works are viewed per day and you can feel the excitement in the room when a gem crops up. It is intriguing to see all the various mediums, expressions, ideas, processes and trends. The works are viewed anonymously but of course sometimes an artist’s work will be recognised by someone on the panel. However, we endeavour to keep the process anonymous, as this is fairer. It also means that we, the panel, don’t know if the work is by a male or female artist and it is judged purely on the quality of the work. Sometimes something quite unusual will get through and it might not be to ones individual taste but that is part of the experience. Selection of works is a democratic process. As a 32-county body, the RHA Annual Exhibition is also open to all parts of the country and it always brings in new talent. As the biggest open selection exhibition in the country, it gives artists the chance to exhibit at museum standard and is a great honour for everyone who takes part. The RHA Annual Exhibition also challenges Academy Members and invited artists as we know we must put in our best work. It keeps us on our toes! Members find it just as exciting as everyone else, it’s our big day out.
Personally, I have been putting work in to the Annual since I was an art student. There were times of great disappointment when I got rejected and times of celebration when I was accepted. This is the story of all artists and what we learn from this experience is to keep working, keep improving and developing our practice and to never give up.
It is important that that the works arrive in good shape and are to exhibition standard. At times seemingly, small details can make a work unsuitable for selection. It could be something as simple as an oversized signature or work that is over-framed. We would love to see more sculpture submitted and we are cognoscente that this is difficult, which is why photographic submissions are very welcome, particularly when detailed and well executed.
We are very excited that this year there will be a documentary produced by independent documentary makers, Hilary Fennell and Mark McLoughlin, following 6 artists who submit to the Annual. The programme will be aired on RTE One in June which will give viewers a greater insight to the submission and selection processes.
The exhibition attracts a huge audience and I know from personal experience that buyers follow up on artists whose work they have seen at the Annual. The sales commission is low (35% for all Artists) and the Annual is a great opportunity for artists to sell their work. In some cases, it may be their main plat- form. We also have the largest artistic prize fund in Ireland of over €56,000+. There are many substantial and career changing prizes available to the exhibiting artists. I would like to express our sincere thanks to our sponsors for all their support.
Every year we run a series of free, public talks during the exhibition. These talks are made possible by Academy Members volunteering their time. Our intention is to make the exhibition even more accessible and to reach new audiences.
I would like to acknowledge the commitment of staff and technical crew who work late into the night to make sure artworks are cared for, stored safely and handled in the proper way. Thank you to Michael Cullen RHA and Vera Klute ARHA for their role in the hanging of the Annual. It takes great time and consideration to hang such a substantial show. They make it look easy by doing such a wonderful job. The show is intriguing with superb works at every turn.
Looking to the future of the Annual, we see it continuing to be one of the most important exhibitions, nationally.
Thank you to all the artists for their submissions. This is the reason the Annual is such an interesting and diverse show. It is a hugely exciting exhibition and event for artists, our families and friends and I greatly look forward to welcoming you all, this summer.”
Admission is free and the exhibition is supported by a full colour catalogue costing €20, available at reception. Further information on the awards associated with the RHA Annual Exhibition is available within the catalogue and the recipients of all awards will be announced in the RHA Autumn newsletter.
The Hennessy Craig Award
BEQUEST OF THE ESTATE OF PATRICK HENNESSY AND HENRY ROBERTSON CRAIG
A Wealth of invention at the RHA Annual, Aidan Dunne, The Irish Time, 28.05.19 HERE
Image: Amanda Coogan, COWARDS, 2019, Photography from a live performance, Giclée print on photo satin paper mounted to dibond, 65 x 100cm, Image courtesy of the artist.