Updated: Jul 20, 2021
The opening of the RBSA online art shop gives you an alternative way to buy art online. So, you can now support British artists from the comfort of your own home – in lockdown and beyond.
Behind every piece of art that we exhibit in the RBSA Gallery and sell in our online shop is by an individual artist. This person is pouring their heart and soul into crafting unique items. Selling these items allows them to earn a living doing something they love. Supporting our local community of Birmingham artists, as well as designer-makers from across the UK, is a big part of the RBSA’s mission. And our artist community needs our support (and yours) more than ever right now.
Visual arts in lockdown
Sadly, we can’t invite you into the RBSA’s bricks-and-mortar art gallery in Birmingham at the moment. In 2020, coronavirus forced art spaces to abruptly close. And in 2021, the disruption caused by the global pandemic continues.
As a result, there’s certainly a feeling of bleakness surrounding the arts at the moment. But there are also signs that some creative businesses and artists are managing to thrive. Even in lockdown. These are the enterprises and individual artists with an established online presence and an audience of digital followers buying and sharing their works online.
But not every designer-maker has this online existence. Most of our local Midlands visual arts and craft community is made up of sole-traders and micro businesses. Many simply don’t have the resource or reserves to support and promote a sophisticated online trading platform.
We’ve opened the RBSA online art shop to give independent designer-makers an alternative digital platform to sell their work.
What artwork is on sale at the RBSA online art shop?
Like the store at the RBSA Gallery, our online art shop sells unique items that are lovingly handcrafted in the UK. In fact, many items are made closer to home by Birmingham artists. Some are even our neighbours in the workshops on our doorstep in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter.
We’re aware lots of art lovers don’t feel able to splurge on large investment pieces at the moment – it’s a difficult time for everyone, not just our artists. So, our intention is to make our online shop a platform for buying affordable craft. For example, there’s a good selection of products with prices from £5 to £30. And even our priciest options sit in a reasonably priced £70 to £150 bracket.
Arc necklace and mini-arc earrings by myBearHands
Products on sale include cards and stationery, books, prints, ceramics, jewellery and more. It’s the perfect place to find a really original item to share as a special gift. Or maybe you’re looking for something to keep and enjoy yourself?
With more than 200 items now on sale, we want to use this post to introduce you to a few of our designer-makers.
Sally Holyoak – myBearHands
Sally is an ethical jeweller. She uses recycled silver to create modern, minimal silver jewellery with a playful feel. In January 2020, myBearHands officially became an ethical business.
“I’ve always been aware of the damage we do to the environment through modern living and try to make environmentally-aware decisions in my personal life. I had a lightbulb moment at a trade show one year in London. Looking at the hundreds of stands selling more 'stuff' – including my own – I realised that if sustainability was important to me, I couldn't turn a blind eye when it came to my business. All my materials are now either recycled or sustainably sourced.”
Aaron Chow – Studio Bearon
Studio Bearon uses traditional sewing construction techniques and experiments with colour and texture to make contemporary textile products.
“We pull inspiration from everyday life and most goods are developed and designed based on the everyday needs of our studio team. The designs from the studio are often inspired by geometric patterns in contemporary, modern and cubist art – we have a fondness for the works of László Moholy-Nagy, Gerrit Rietveld and Matisse.”
Alex Allday – Alex Allday Ceramics
Alex uses unconventional techniques, processes and methods to create a range of ceramic products with distinctive surface designs.
“A big part of my brand and product identity is the surface pattern design element. I’ve never drawn my inspiration for patterns from current trends. Instead, I focus on what catches my eye from beautiful old fabrics and wallpapers to the intricate details on old English architecture, which I then redraw and explore to create distinctive designs.”
How can I support Birmingham’s independent makers?
The RBSA website is now a place you can buy art online from some amazing UK artists and designer-makers.
“If you really want to help independent makers during lockdown, the best thing you can do is buy something,” says Sally Holyoak of My Bear Hands. “It doesn't have to be anything big – as the campaign goes, 'just a card' makes all the difference.”
Every item listed on the RBSA online shop is crafted by an artist who cares deeply about every sale. Many independent makers are working alone from home. Without the reassurance or support of a team, your sale, however small, has the ability to completely transform their day.
“All brands start off small,” says Aaron Chow of Studio Bearon. “And at this stage even the smallest sale can make a huge impact to that maker’s morale and self-belief.”
Visit our online art shop
Take a trip over to the RBSA shop to discover some of the unique art and collectable craft created by UK artists.
The RBSA Gallery Shop currently delivers to the UK only. Please see our delivery and returns policy for details.
Article by Laura Jane Johnson
The Royal Birmingham Society of Artists (RBSA) is an artist-led charity which supports artists and promotes engagement with the visual arts through a range of exhibitions, events and workshops.
The RBSA runs an exhibition venue, the RBSA Gallery, in Birmingham’s historic Jewellery Quarter, a short walk from the city centre.
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