Annual Open Exhibitions


Annual Open Exhibitions at RWA Bristol

168 Annual Open Exhibition: Information for Participating artists (submissions now closed):

Submissions to the RWA 168 Annual Open Exhibition have now closed. 

We would like to say a huge thank you to all who applied to this year's exhibition. Income from submissions is vital to the RWA, an independent charity (1070163). It enables us to maintain our historically significant building, present our ambitious programme of exhibitions and deliver creative opportunities for young people and adults across Bristol. Your support is more important now than ever. 

About the RWA Annual Open Exhibition

The 168 Annual Open Exhibition is due to open to the public on 17 April 2021, you can book your ticket HERE.

All Annual Open artworks can be viewed and purchased online HERE.  

The RWA's Annual Open Exhibition is now in its 168th year. Anyone can enter their work for this mixed discipline show, and as usual this year includes painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, film, sculpture and illustration by artists ranging from leading professionals, including RWA Academicians, to emerging talent, from across the UK and beyond. 

A selection panel assesses every entry and all work is for sale; the exhibition attracts art-lovers and art-buyers from far and wide. Submissions are welcome from unknown, emerging and established artists, and work is judged purely on its own merits, anonymously, rather than on the artist's CV. 

The indexed exhibition catalogue is available as a PDF below. 

The selection panel for the 168th Annual Open included RWA Academicians Fiona Robinson, Ros Ford, Seyed Edalatpour, Andrew Muñoz and Wendy Elia, alongside artist and gallerist Zavier Ellis, art writer and critic Anna McNay and Isabel Seligman, curator at the Bridget Riley Art Foundation.

Our invited artists are RA President Rebecca Salter and Royal Academician Frank Bowling


The value of this year's prize fund exceeded £9000. To find out which artists won prizes visit our blog

Further reading on the RWA blog: Ten Reasons to Take Part in the RWA Annual Open Exhibition

Smith and Williamson logo

The 168 Annual Open Exhibition is sponsored by Smith & Williamson.

Photo credit: Alice Hendy 



RWA Photography Open Exhibition - POSTPONED until 2023

It is with regret that we have had to postpone the Photography Open Exhibition until 2023.

Artists wishing to take part in the Photography Open Exhibition can subscribe to our newsletter to be notified when submissions open. 

Who can apply?

Submissions for the  Photography Open are invited from all artists who create photographic series or explore the nature of photography in a series of work. Those who use photography to inform their sculpture, installation, architecture or other artistic practice are also encouraged to enter their work. Artists of all ages and experience are welcome to submit.

There is no theme however, submitted works must be part of a series of a minimum of three pieces. Submissions must have been created no more than three years ago and must be for sale. All entries are subject to selection and a fee for entry applies.  

All work will be for sale online, as with popular and dynamic 168 Annual Open Exhibition.


There are a range of exciting prizes to be won, which will be announced in the new year. Watch this space for news of awards such as a prize for emerging artist photographers and future exhibition and magazine features.

How to Apply

Each artwork is judged on its own merits by a selection panel and submissions and selections will take place online. Submitting an artwork couldn't be easier via the online submission systemSubscribe to our newsletter to be notified when submissions open.

Selection Panel

This year’s selection panel includes internationally acclaimed artists Jem Southam, Amak Mahmoodian and Sian Bonnell together with RWA Academicians Katie Davies RWA, Susan Derges RWA and Tracy Marshall, Bristol Photo Festival Director. The invited artists are Robert Darch and Helen Sear.

About the RWA Photography Open Exhibition

From camera obscuras dating back to ancient China, to the breakthrough in capturing images with early pinhole photography, few artistic mediums have undergone such dramatic transformation. Now in the digital age, photography has become one of the most popular and accessible forms of artistic and personal expression.

The Open will fill the main galleries at RWA and is also accompanied by a special exhibition by leading Bristol-born photographer Jem Southam.  

The Photography Open Exhibition reflects the RWA’s ongoing commitment to championing world-class art in the region and creating opportunities for new and emerging talent. Income from submissions is a vital source of support for the RWA, an independent charity (1070163), in order to maintain its historically significant building, present its ambitious programme of exhibitions and deliver creative opportunities for young people and adults across Bristol.

The RWA Photography Open Exhibition is sponsored by Schroders and is part of Bristol Photo Festival. 




Find out more about our network of artists and how you can join them.

168 Annual Open Exhibition

17 April - 9 May 2021

Bristol's Royal Academy presents its 168th Annual Open Exhibition, showcasing some of the most exciting artists from across the country and beyond

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