Donating a work to the RBSA: how we handle new acquisitions

If you have a work by a significant Birmingham artist, or are connected to the membership of the RBSA in any way, donating art or leaving us a legacy is a wonderful way to support the work of the Society… 

The RBSA has Accredited Museum status and we are always looking to expand our Permanent Collection.

We receive donation enquiries from the public from time to time and ask for details of the artist and an image of the artwork. We also have to point out that the RBSA does not have an acquisition budget, but we welcome gifts to the Society.

Betsy, Oil paint on canvas 59cmx50cm

Teresa Clarke, ‘Portrait of Betsy’

The Collection focuses on significant Birmingham artists and RBSA Members and Associates: if these criteria are met the donor is invited to bring the work into the gallery for assessment by the Archive Officer and the Hon Professor of Art History, Brendan Flynn.

If the work is accepted, the donor signs an Object Entry Form which confirms that they actually own the piece and that they are gifting it to the RBSA. If we are offered a choice from a collection we visit the donor at home.

The Archive Officer enters the work in the accession register, labels the object and puts it in the archive storage racks. The acquisition is also photographed and recorded on our MODES collections management software system.

Diploma works


‘Hannah’, Francesca Currie

Each year when new Members are elected to the Society they are required to give a diploma work to the Collection. These are accessioned and recorded in exactly the same way as any other donation.

Legacy donations

In 2017 we were contacted by the executor of a deceased relative who had, unbeknownst to us, bequeathed a collection of 24 watercolour paintings to the RBSA. He wished for the group of paintings to be kept together.

The Archive Officer met the executor, viewed the group of paintings and agreed to take six artworks for the RBSA collection. The executor was happy that we were able to at least keep part of the collection together. We also received a large amount of biographical information, press cuttings, even copies of birth and death certificates of the artist. This information will be invaluable for researchers of the future.

Jessie Mary Hoyland

Two paintings by Jessie Mary Hoyland, believed to be one of the first female Associates of the RBSA, have recently been donated to the Society by the artist’s granddaughter.

The works are the only examples of works by Jessie Mary Hoyland in the Collection. They are signed but undated.

‘Near Shap, Westmorland’ is a gouache painting, possibly from the 1930s/1940s as it is stylistically typical of landscapes from this era. The family were evacuated to the Lake District during WW2 so it is possible that the painting was done during this time.

‘Still Life with Fruit’ is a watercolour painting that reflects the artist’s passion for gardening and the natural world. Jessie lived in Bournville, where every garden on the estate was planted with a fruit tree – perhaps she had some fruit trees in her garden at Bournville that supplied the subject for this work.


Bridget Gilliatt, granddaughter of Jessie Hoyland, donates her work…

The original donation enquiry was made by the artist’s daughter in 2004, but after family consultations in was decided to let the children and grandchildren have the opportunity to own one of their grandmother’s pictures before deciding what to do with the rest. Should you wish to make a donation or leave a legacy to the RBSA please call us on 0121 236 4353 or email

Banner image: Diploma work by Ed Isaacs of Spaghetti Junction

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