July at the RBSA: Portrait Prize, Friends Exhibition and summer workshops!

July sees the opening of one of most popular exhibitions… the RBSA Portrait Prize!

If you’re planning a staycation this summer or are just looking for things to do in Birmingham, check out this stunning show.

And why not dip into our amazing programme of art workshops?

You and your family could have a fun day being taught by one of our artist tutors – we have sessions in printmaking, portraits, photography, print and much more! Our classes are aimed at both beginners and experienced artists seeking to try a new medium.

Our solo shows and exhibitions will see great art on show across our three floors of gallery space. Fans of watercolour will enjoy discovering Mathe Shepeard, and lovers of fine art prints should visit the Heinke Jenkins show.

Read on to find out more about July’s highlights…

RBSA Portrait Prize July 25 – 31 August


‘Pauline’, Steve Caldwell

Our biennial Portrait Prize Exhibition attracts entries from the UK and beyond. It’s one of our most popular shows, attracting visitors keen to view the latest in portraiture.

World-renowned artists sit alongside emerging talent, making this an exciting show for new discoveries.

This year’s show is selected by professional portrait painters John Devane, Robert Neil VP PPRBSA, Sara Shamma, and Jonathan Waller.

Artists entering have the chance to win a selection of prizes, including a £1,000 top prize and a People’s Choice Prize, selected from votes cast by visitors.

Summer Workshops


Looking for new activities for this summer? The RBSA has workshops throughout the summer for people interested in expanding or just beginning their artistic skills – and they are booking fast!

Workshops cover a variety of subjects, techniques, and styles. All art enthusiasts are welcome!

Read on below to find out a little bit more about our July workshops. You can ask us questions or book by calling 0121 236 4353.

Trees in Graphite Tue 23 July David Brammeld RBSA

Learn how to draw striking treescapes in pencil and graphite through a variety of techniques and expressive handling. Suitable for all abilities, including beginners.

£50 / £45 Mixed Media Portrait Painting Wed 24 July  Jain McKay RBSA

Experiment with a variety of materials and approaches to help you create a selection of exciting portraits. Suitable for all abilities, including more experienced portrait artists seeking new ideas.

£60 / £55 Experimental Life Drawing Thu 25 – Fri 26 July  Jain McKay RBSA

Produce exciting life drawings using a variety of materials and approaches. Suitable for all abilities, including more experienced portrait artists seeking new ideas. £115 / £105

Seeing and Thinking Portraiture Sat 27 July, 9am-5pm  Guest Tutors Paul Hill MBE and Maria Falconer FRPS

Engage with ‘sitters’ in natural situations using a range of simple techniques to create photographs that communicate more than a likeness. Suitable for new and experienced photographers alike. £55 / £50 Improve Your Urban Drawing Mon 29 – Tue 30 July Ed Isaacs RBSA

A comprehensive overview of key drawing skills, involving one day of studiobased drawing and one day of urban sketching along local canals and streets. Suitable for those with some previous drawing experience. £50 / £45 Life Drawing Wed 31 July Tina Willis-Jones, RBSA Friend

Learn about basic human anatomy, measuring techniques, scale and proportion to create dynamic life drawings in different media. Suitable for all abilities. £60 / £55

For more information about the workshops we have available across the summer and how to book, please visit our workshops page.

Friends Exhibition Until 20 July

Our annual display of artwork by the Friends of the RBSA promotes their range of artistic talents and acknowledges their importance to the Society.

Be sure to show your support by coming to see this vibrant exhibition. Our Friends work in a range of media producing exciting contemporary art. Gallery staff are happy to help if you would like to make a purchase. Visit soon!

If you were unable to enter work this year, don’t forget you can become a Friend of the RBSA and do join our free mailing list to receive all the calls for entries next year.

Solo Shows

Mathé Shepheard Japan Revisited in the Mind 1 July – 17 August


View watercolour and Indian Ink paintings inspired by Mathé’s travels to Japan twenty years ago.

She originally qualified in Ceramics and Glass with a thesis on Victorian Stained Glass. For several years she produced ceramics for sale and designs for companies as well as individual glass pieces.

Later Mathé became a part-time lecturer in History of Art at Birmingham City University. Since she retired she has concentrated on two dimensional work in watercolour and ink. Used freely they allow her to express her response to nature and its mystery of space and time.

She has gone through periods working intensively on flowers, individually and in groups, and on trees which can be near-realistic or semi-abstract. Other aspects of her work derive from landscape, sky and water – responding to a free combination of watercolours and inks.

Heinke Jenkins Migrants 15 July – 7 Sept


A series of nine lino-cut prints charting the perilous journeys made by migrants.

Heinke was born in Heilbronn, West Germany, just before the outbreak of World War II, moving to Britain in 1961.

She studied painting at the University of Stuttgart under Mannfred Henninger, but switched to graphic design and illustration. Heinke went on to specialise in printing and lino-cuts, staying true to the traditions of her native Germany despite there not being much of a printmaking scene in the UK at the start of her career.

She maintained links with her hometown through the Heilbronn Artists’ Association, and also showed at the Royal Academy in London.

Her work is haunted by the aftermath of war, with frequent allusions to control, brutality, displacement and escape.

Stephen Butt Two Styles One Theme Until 13 July

stephen butt

Matisse once said an artist should never be a prisoner of himself or of a style, this I hold to be true particularly in the multicultural world of the 21st century.

In this exhibition, Stephen continues to explore the man-made city in harmony with or opposition to nature. The show includes two different styles of working, exploring the introduction of the figure – and therefore a narrative – and the introduction of oil painting.

Stephen says: ‘My conversion back to oil paint, partly due to studying David Cox in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery has allowed me to represent a stronger form of realism and naturalism, which in turn lends itself to a narrative aspect.

‘The introduction of animate forms is conceived more as arranging players within stage sets as opposed to reacting to natural circumstances.

‘This often brings about an ‘oblique narration’ by which I mean, an action or story line which cannot quite be discerned but which is never the less inherent in the work.’

Olivia Peake Until 10 August

olivia peake

An exploration of geometry, light and colour, blurring the boundaries between painting, sculpture and architecture. Olivia presents a paused moment in her practice that unveils transitions between colour, paint and support, fuelled with a curiosity of geometry and light.

Olivia was our recent New Art West Midlands winner.

Craft Show

Urban Jungle Until 14 September


The concrete architectural jungle of a city may seem very separate from a lush oasis. However, many urban environments hide gardens, parks and plants in their midst. This provides the inspiration for our latest craft exhibition ‘Urban Jungle’.

Find botanically inspired pieces of jewellery, ceramics and textiles, alongside graphic and architectural designer-maker craft. Every piece is hand-made by a designer-maker and prices start at just £15.

Visit us

Entry to all RBSA exhibitions is free and many of the works on show are on sale. We recommend viewing in person before making a purchase, but you can view many current exhibitions online, with prices, at our Flickr page. 

We take a deposit or full payment at the gallery, and you can arrange to collect your work once the exhibition is over. If you can’t make it to an exhibition, call us on 0121 236 4353 or email rbsagallery@rbsa.org.uk

Visit the RBSA soon and see what original art you could be taking home…

Remember that booking is not required for our Saturday demonstrations, so feel free to drop by the Gallery on the day. For more details on all the events listed, and to find out about everything else going on at the RBSA, please take a look at the website.

Banner image: Mathé Shepheard RBSA – Marshy Edge Pool in Sutton Park

#ArtClasses #artexhibitions #summerinBirmingham #thingstodoinbirmingham

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