November at the RBSA: an exciting month for art historians

We have been excited all year about November… it’s the month of our major post-war abstraction retrospective, looking at the work of William Gear.

There’s also a symposium for art lovers who want to learn more about this important figure, and you can introduce your children to abstract art in our Family Workshop.

We are grateful to the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, and Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, for their assistance in bringing this exhibition together.

And a special thank you must go to William’s son, David, and Stephen Wildman for help with curation and the loan of important artworks, some of which have never before been exhibited.

The abstract theme continues with Equivalent 8, and then later this month there’s our Members & Associates exhibition.

You’ll find Christmas gift ideas in our craft gallery space, and at Starlight. And don’t forget to check out our solo shows and book your place at our Charity Auction which takes place on Thursday 2 November. Tickets are just £10, and you can view the online auction catalogue here.

Colour and Form: William Gear (1915-1997)

November 1 – 18

William Gear, Caged Yellow, 1996, Acrylic and Ink

A celebration of work by William Gear, exploring his key role in progressing and promoting abstract art in Birmingham and across the UK. Artworks from Gear’s estate, never previously exhibited, are included in this major exhibition, staged in association with the Paul Mellon Centre and Kettle’s Yard.

Family Workshop, Abstract Prints: 12 November, 2-4pm: To coincide with the William Gear exhibition, Karoline Rerrie will show you how to draw, cut and print abstract designs using block printing techniques.

William Gear Symposium: 12 November, 10-1pm: Learn all about Gear through a funded event in conjunction with the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, with Dr Jennifer Powell, Senior Curator at Kettle’s Yard. £10. £6 for Members, Friends, Associates and students. Booking essential.

Equivalent 8

until November 18

An exhibition of 64 abstract and semi-abstract sculptures, paintings and drawings by eight RBSA Members: Viv Astling, Steve Evans, Malcolm Franklin, Jo Naden, Jenny Ryrie, Michael Sadler, George Taylor and David Walton. This show runs alongside the William Gear exhibition.

A Celebratory Open Day takes place on Sunday 5 November, 2-4pm to mark the opening of our Equivalent 8 and William Gear exhibitions. Open events are free and there’s no need to book.

There’s also a Saturday art demonstration with Equivalent 8 exhibitors on 18 November, 11-1pm and 2-4pm. Free, no need to book.

RBSA Charity Auction in association with Bonhams, Deutsche Bank and Autistica

Thursday 2 November

FINAL DB auction flyer pic 1

There’s a host of affordable art at our Charity Auction. Browse categories and remember to book your ticket soon at

Art lovers are invited to bid on hotly-tipped artists at a Birmingham charity auction, with very affordable estimates meaning there will be bargains on the night.

The Royal Birmingham Society of Artists is to hold its first Charity Auction on November 2, run by Bonhams and hosted by Deutsche Bank at their prestigious Brindleyplace offices.

Tickets are £10 with income from ticket sales going to Autistica, Deutsche Bank’s Charity of the Year.

All auction proceeds will go to the RBSA: lots have been donated by artists to raise funds for the visual arts charity which is one of the oldest Royal Societies in the UK.

You can view a fully illustrated catalogue online as a downloadable pdf. Or browse categories at our Charity Auction portfolio page, where you’ll find landscapes, seascapes, ceramics, sculpture, abstracts, still life and portraits.

Robert Neil, President of the RBSA and a past finalist in the BP Portrait Award, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for art lovers to snap up a potential bargain. The range of artists featured at our Charity Auction is breathtaking.

“Reserves are very affordable, and it is possible that you could walk away with a work worth hundreds, if not thousands of pounds, for a fraction of the price.

“We hope to see both established collectors and those new to buying art at the event, which promises to be a thrilling night, and one we hope will raise much-needed funds, both for the RBSA and Autistica.”

The RBSA does not receive any regular government funding. Our Charity Auction is an exciting new way for the Society to fundraise, and will supplement annual donations from charities, corporates, and individuals.

Help keep the Gallery open by buying an auction ticket today. We want the RBSA to continue in its valuable services to the public and artists alike. Guests on the night will also be invited to support Autistica with an optional donation.

Jon Spiers, Chief Executive at Autistica, said, “We’re thrilled to be chosen as RBSA’s partner charity benefitting from ticket sales from the event, which will help us to give long, happy, healthy lives to all autistic people and their families through groundbreaking research.”

A spokesperson for Bonhams added: “‘Bonhams are honoured to be asked to assist with the auction of these works in order to raise funds for these very worthy charitable causes.”

  1. A fully illustrated catalogue is available online as a downloadable pdf

  2. Bidders are invited to browse the catalogue and shortlist works of interest

  3. All donated works can be viewed on arrival at the venue

  4. After registering, guests will be given a numbered paddle to hold up when bidding

  5. The event starts with welcome drinks at 6.30pm

  6. The auction itself runs from 7.30pm to approximately 8.30pm

  7. Bidding will take place at the auction and is open to ticket holders only

  8. Payment can be taken at the end of the evening

  9. A 50% deposit can be placed if works are to be collected from the RBSA Gallery

To purchase a ticket:

  1. Call us on 0121 236 4353 to pay by card over the phone

  2. Send a cheque in the post (payable to ‘RBSA’) to RBSA, 4 Brook St, Birmingham B3 1SA

  3. Pay by cash in person at the Gallery

  4. Pay via our website

To keep up with all the latest news from the RBSA, join our mailing list.

Members and Associates Exhibition

23 November – 23 December

Photo: Corina Esquivel

If you’re stuck for Christmas present ideas, why not visit this annual showcase of artwork by our Members and Associates? The show provides a great opportunity to explore the talent represented by the RBSA. You can also purchase work by our artists.

All our Members and Associates started out as Friends of the RBSA. Are you interested in joining? Why not come to one of our forthcoming Friends events to find out more…

RBSA Craft Gallery Exhibitions

As one of the leading outlets for contemporary craft in the Midlands, the RBSA showcases the work of designer makers through our creatively themed displays. Our displays celebrate Birmingham at the forefront of design.


until 27 January

Blast off into a galaxy far away with Starlight, an exhibition exploring the spectacle of outer space. From jewellery inspired by meteorites and shooting stars, to space-age ceramics and ethereal glass, this exhibition offers an opportunity for stargazing right in the heart of Birmingham. Perfect for Christmas gifts, with a range of products and prices to suit all pockets.

Solo Shows

The RBSA Art Gallery features regular solo shows for art lovers, showcasing work for sale by Members, Associates and artists from around the UK. Shows are held in the Café spaces and Craft Gallery Wall on the ground floor.

Elaine Hind, Botanica: until 18 November: Elaine exhibits her detailed and delicate porcelain vessels and sculptural pieces inspired by forms, patterns and colour of plant life

Dennis Minchin: until 18 November: Hold onto summer with this display of bright and beautiful floral studies in acrylics and oil.

Brian Fletcher: until 18 November: Explore the many different qualities of paint in this selection of mixed-media and impasto paintings.

 By Deborah Broomfield, ART BLOG volunteer

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