190th RHA Annual Exhibition - PRESS RELEASE

RHA 190th Annual Exhibition

RHA Gallery



Now in its 190th year, Ireland’s largest and longest running open submission exhibition is now available for you to view here online for the first time in its 190-year history! Showcasing painting, sculpture, print, photography, drawing and architectural models by Academy Members, invited artists and through an open submission process, the 190th Annual Exhibition offers an unparalleled opportunity for the first-time buyer and discerning collector alike.


Having been postponed from its usual summer spot, the exhibition is installed at the gallery and we hope to reopen our doors over the coming weeks, government restrictions allowing. We have implemented all of the HSE/NSAI required protocols for the safety and comfort of all our visitors and staff when the RHA Gallery reopens. To enable us to provide a safe, authentic art experience, tickets are free but we ask that you book your visit to the gallery, via our website www.rhagallery.ie once the opening date has been confirmed. 


Abigail O’Brien, President of the RHA, explains; “This year the Annual Exhibition transitioned to a digital submission format and 4,129 entries were made online by 2,698 artists, the largest submission ever. Over the course of a week the Selection Committee reviewed the first round of digital submissions together in the RHA Library and selected 645 for the second round, before Covid-19 restrictions came into force. Artists shortlisted for the second round delivered their work to the RHA over three days in August, by prior arrangement, and the committee made the final selection of the exhibition. All the selected works have been put through a rigorous and thoughtful process by the Selection Committee.


The theme for our Annual Exhibition catalogue this year is Landscape. Covid-19 saw our landscapes contracted and we were restricted. Some to four walls and to private outdoor spaces – if we are fortunate enough to have them. Some to 2km, then, to 5km and finally 20km. It is interesting to consider this pre-pandemic work and to imagine how these artworks, or how we see them, has changed today.


The shared international crisis has brought focus on many aspects of our society and social structures. We ask ourselves what is essential and what is working well, what matters and what doesn’t. Art has an important role to play in asking and answering these questions, and imagining what a different life might be like. Art makes us think, inspires us and gives us joy. These are not luxuries; they are essential to the human experience and this huge shared experience has given us the reason and the time to reflect upon them.


To perform this social role, artists need to survive and if we are to have a vibrant art landscape in Ireland we especially need to continue to provide routes and supports, especially for early career artists.


Technology has been a creative tool for many artists, and as mentioned, this year it has been an enabler of the Annual Exhibition and made the open submission process more accessible than ever before. For most people, technology became our sole connection to important people in our lives. Social media saw art and creativity expand into the unexpected time available to many.


Reconnecting with the physical work in the Gallery will, I think, be a thrilling and memorable experience. For most visitors to the exhibition, it may be their first direct, personal cultural engagement in many, many months.


This is a notable Annual in the RHA’s long history – we hope there will not be another like it – and it is testimony to the creative force, resilience and determination of the Academy to provide opportunities to artists, and to make art available to all, in the heart of Dublin city.” - Abigail O’Brien PRHA, August 2020


We may have had to move the summer show to winter this year but we will still have a warm welcome for you and greatly look forward to opening our doors and welcoming you to the gallery and in the meantime, we hope you enjoy this online viewing experience. Purchases made this year will be instrumental in helping artists who have given so much to us all during this pandemic, while supporting the RHA and allowing us to continue to be ambitious as we adjust and expand our offerings to you, during this time. Support the Arts. 


For further information or images please contact Rebecca Gale, RHA Marketing at rebecca@rhagallery.ie or tel: 01 661 2558. See RHA website, www.rhagallery.ie for more information.