Art / rwa

RWA moves its exhibitions and events online

By steve wright, Tuesday Apr 7, 2020

Bristol’s Royal West of England Academy has announced a series of ways in which it will continue to interact with the public over the next few months, as the UK coronavirus lockdown continues.

Alison Bevan, Director, RWA commented: “As an independent charity and dependent on the income from ticket sales and other activities, this will be an incredibly difficult time for us and for those artists who rely on us. We have negligible unrestricted reserves to fall back on, and receive just £12,000 a year in public subsidy (a small grant from Bristol City Council).


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“We need to raise at least £850,000 each year, including from admission tickets and our Drawing School, just to maintain this beautiful building and use it to enable everyone to experience great art here in Bristol.

“We are looking at ways in which we can continue – online – to inspire people with art and creativity.  This will include our ever-popular Secret Postcard Auction, which we are aiming to hold online this year between June 15 and 25, 2020. We’ve already got some superb contributions from artists including Nick Park, Sir Richard Long, Dame Joan Collins and many more, so do look out for announcements.”

Elsewhere, the RWA has created an online art gallery including works from its major exhibition Wilhelmina Barns-Graham: Inspirational Journeys which had just opened its doors when the gallery was forced to close.

The RWA’s scheduled spring exhibitions are now documented on its website: the exhibitions themselves will be extended into the summer. Pictured: Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, Two Island Series (No. 2) (Orkney), 1987, oil and pencil, hardboard, 29.8 x 60.8 cm © The Barns-Graham Charitable Trust. Photo credit Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust

In the meantime, the gallery is inviting past and potential visitors to consider making a general donation to help ensure its survival. Other ways to support the RWA include browsing and buying art from the online exhibitions, purchasing a Friends Membership, Art Pass or gift voucher (Membership expiry dates have been extended to 30 June 2021) and following the gallery on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Key changes to the 2020 programme:

●      The Wilhelmina Barns-Graham and Artists of St Ives exhibitions will be extended over the summer. Some of the works can be viewed online in the interim.

●      The ever-popular Secret Postcard Auction will still be held, but bidding will remain online this year.

Bidding for the RWA’s ever-popular Secret Postcard Auction will be online this year. Pic: Alice Hendy

●      The major exhibition Streets Ahead: Bristol Street Art 2020, originally planned for June 2020, will be postponed until 2022.

●      RWA will still be calling for submissions as usual for the popular 168 Annual Open Exhibition, planned for September 2020.

●      The exhibition Charlotte Price RWA: Of Soil and Sea (March 25-April 30) planned for the the Academicians Gallery has moved online. Artworks are available to buy and proceeds go towards supporting the RWA in their ongoing work.

To view the RWA’s current exhibitions programme, visit

Read more: Coronavirus: the view from Bristol’s galleries and artspaces

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