A Place for Art: The Story of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists

Exhibition at the RBSA: A Place for Art: The Story of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists

8 October — 15 November 2014

This landmark exhibition will explore the history and development of the RBSA from the exhibition staged by the Academy of Arts in 1814. Rarely-seen works from the RBSA Archive will be displayed alongside loans from private and public collections by artists such as David Cox, Joseph Southall, Walter Langley, Mary Gibson, Kate Eadie and Teresa Clarke, the Society’s first female Member.

The exhibition is on now until 15 November. A compact section considers Pre-Raphaelitism & the RBSA with a photogravure of a  Burne-Jones and paintings by Southall, Gaskin, Kate Bunce, Kate Eadie and Maxwell Armfield. There is also Pre-Raphaelite influence in a sword hilt by Robert Emerson and painting of an angel by Mary Gibson – both on display. Exhibits are from the RBSA’s Collection together with loans from Birmingham Museums Trust & the Assay Office, Wolverhampton, Dudley, Leamington and private lenders. There are many other stunning works of art on display. The exhibition is accompanied by an informative beautifully-illustrated catalogue.

It will take place at the RBSA Gallery, 4 Brook Street, Near St Paul’s Square, Birmingham. The exhibition is curated by Brendan Flynn and has been supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. For more information please visit the ‘What’s on’ section of the RBSA website: www.rbsa.org.uk.

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Pre-Raphaelite Exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia

Fortune’s Wheel: The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. From the NGV Collection. 2 April – 12 July 2015, NGV International. FREE ENTRY

In 1848 seven young artists working in London formed The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. They rejected prevailing artistic conventions of nineteenth-century Britain and turned the art world upside down. They quickly attained a reputation for being radical and rebellious, yet their style and powerful imagery eventually gained credence. Their acute aesthetic changed artistic taste in Britain forever.

The NGV’s holdings of works by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood are world renowned. They are richly varied and include paintings, prints, decorative arts, furniture, stained-glass windows and lavish book designs. The collection reflects the role of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in the Arts and Crafts movement in Britain, artists’ place in the development of the illustrated book and their profound influence on later generations of artists.

The NGV has been consistently acquiring Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood works since the 1880s and the NGV’s collection has recently been significantly augmented with a number of key works, including the portrait of the Baroness Deslandes by Edward Burne-Jones as well as preliminary drawings for this painting, a stained-glass window designed by Burne-Jones and a posthumous portrait of an Australian boy by John Everett Millais.

Fortune’s Wheel: The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood will not only focus on the collecting of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood by the NGV, but also include key works held by private collectors and in public institutions in Melbourne. Comprising around 100 works, this will be the first comprehensive exhibition of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood held in Melbourne for more than forty years.

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Annual General Meeting and Founder’s Day lecture by Dr. John Holmes – ‘In Search of Pre‑Raphaelite Architecture’

The Annual General Meeting and Founder’s Day lecture entitled ‘In Search of Pre‑Raphaelite Architecture’ will be given by Dr. John Holmes on the 25th of October. It will take place in the Birmingham & Midland Institute, Margaret Street, Birmingham.

In the 1850’s the architect G. E. Street declared a common cause between the Pre‑Raphaelites and the Gothic Revival. It is easy to see a superficial parallel between the two movements. Both looked to medieval art for their models, and both drew support from the powerful prose of John Ruskin. But the bond between them goes far deeper than this. Street argued that public architecture should be a representational art in which the plan, forms and decoration of a building would embody its purpose and meaning. Like other Pre‑Raphaelite art‑forms, Pre‑Raphaelite architecture would be at once true to nature in its details and profoundly symbolic in its forms. The first building to be constructed on these new principles was the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. The architect Benjamin Woodward consulted with Ruskin and Rossetti on its design and commissioned the Pre‑Raphaelite sculptors Thomas Woolner, Alexander Munro and John Lucas Tupper to carve statues of scientists to surround its central court, while the leading scientists on the project Henry Acland and John Phillips expressly identified the Pre‑Raphaelites as their model in the scrupulous truth to nature of its decorative carvings. The result is the first Pre‑Raphaelite public building, a magnificent collaborative work of art expressing mid‑Victorian concepts of science and nature. As the century unfolded, so Street’s Pre‑Raphaelite ideal of architecture was realised in a number of major public buildings in Victorian England, including his own Law Courts and the Manchester Town Hall and the Natural History Museum, both built by Alfred Waterhouse, the most fashionable and prosperous of the high Victorian architects.

Dr. John Holmes is an Associate Professor in English Literature at the University of Reading, the Co‑Director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research into the Humanities and Science, and the Chair of the British Society for Literature and Science. He is the author of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the Late Victorian Sonnet Sequence (2005) and Darwin’s Bards: British and American Poetry in the Age of Evolution (2009; paperback 2013). He has recently held an AHRC research fellowship to work on the Pre-Raphaelites and science, and is currently writing a book based on his research.

For further details relating to the event mentioned above please email info@Pre‑Raphaelitesociety.org.

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‘Anarchy and Beauty’ – National Portrait Gallery Visit December 6th

All Pre-Raphaelite Society members are invited to a gallery visit hosted by the London and Southern group to see ‘Anarchy and Beauty: William Morris and his Legacy 1860-1960‘. The visit will take place on Saturday 6th December 2014, at 1p.m at The National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place, London, WC2H 0HE.

Anarchy & Beauty explores the life and ideas of the great Victorian artist, writer and visionary thinker William Morris. Through portraits, personal items and objects, many of which will be on public display for the first time, this major exhibition illustrates how the ‘art for the people’ movement had its roots in the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood’s challenge to accepted attitudes to art and also in John Ruskin’s politically radical perception that every human being has inherent creative talent and that handwork was not inferior to brainwork.

Curated by author and biographer Fiona MacCarthy, the exhibition features original furniture and textiles designed and owned by Morris as well as the work of his contemporaries including Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William De Morgan, architect Philip Webb and Edward Burne-Jones. These will be showcased alongside remarkable books, jewellery, ceramics and clothing by craftspeople such as Eric Gill, Bernard Leach and Terence Conran, demonstrating how Morris’s legacy continued into the twentieth century, influencing radical politics, the Garden City movement and the Festival of Britain in 1951.

For further details relating to the event mentioned above please email Madeleine Pearce, the London and Southern Group coordinator, nouveaudigital@gmail.com. Sign up leaflets will be available in the next PRS mailing and must be received before October 31st.


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London & South Of England – Book Club Meeting October 12th

The Pre-Raphaelite Society is pleased to announce the very first book club meeting hosted by the London and Southern Group, at noon on Sunday the 12th of October. We will be reading Kirsty Stonell Walker’s ‘Stunner: The Fall and Rise of Fanny Cornforth’, available from Amazon. The author will be in attendance and all Society members are welcome to attend.

The meeting will take place in the basement seating area of Costa Coffee, 112 Southampton Row, London, WC1B 4BL. A casual, guided round table discussion over beverages will take place, with the option to move to nearby Russell Square for further socializing afterwards.

If you are interested, please contact Madeleine Pearce, the London and Southern Group coordinator, nouveaudigital@gmail.com, before September 30th so a headcount can be done.

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Society to visit Red House, Bexleyheath, 27th September

The Pre-Raphaelite Society will be visiting Red House in Bexleyheath on the 27th September. Red House is the only house commissioned, created and lived in by William Morris. It was designed by Morris and the architect Philip Webb in 1859, and is of major architectural and social significance. It gives us a unique view of Morris’s early designs and decorative schemes. Red House became the centre for Morris’s circle of friends and it was here that the idea of ‘The Firm’ – Morris, Marshall, Faulkner – for Morris and Company, was conceived.

Major conservation work has uncovered an entire wall painting believed to be by William Morris and friends. This along with other decorative discoveries, furniture designed by William Morris and Philip Webb and stained glass and paintings by Edward Burne-Jones, provides us with a unique glimpse into the lives of William Morris, other Pre-Raphaelite artists and their families.

For further details relating to the event mentioned above please email info@Pre‑Raphaelitesociety.org.

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The PRS Poetry Prize and Essay Competition

These competitions are open to members and non-members alike.

The Pre-Raphaelite Society Poetry Prize 2014

Rules for Entry

1st Prize:  £50

The three winning poems will be published in the Pre-Raphaelite Society’s Review, along with two Commended poems.


Entry is open to all writers of any nationality, aged 18 years and over.

The competition will be judged by the Editor of the Society’s Review, Serena Trowbridge; and by the Society’s Poet-in-Residence, Sarah Doyle.  All entries will be seen by both judges.

Poems may be in any style, but must be written in English.

Poems must in some way reflect an aspect (or aspects) of the lives or works of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood or their broader circle.

Every poem should be accompanied by a brief (maximum 100 words) explanation of how the poem relates to the Pre-Raphaelites.

Poems must be typed/printed on A4 paper; hand-written entries are not permitted.

The maximum length for each poem is 100 lines.

The closing date for the competition is 30th November 2014.

A maximum of three poems per entrant may be submitted.

Entry is £2 per poem, or £5 for the maximum of three poems


Poems must be the entrant’s own work.

Poems may not have been previously published – in print, electronically or online; nor broadcast via any means (including podcasting); nor exhibited in a public place.

Poems should not be submitted for consideration elsewhere during the competition and during the subsequent period of adjudication.

Winning poems should not be submitted for publication elsewhere prior to appearing in the Review.

Poems may not have won a prize in previous competitions.

Poems may not be withdrawn or altered once submitted into the competition.

How to Enter

No identifying marks should appear on the poem/s or on accompanying explanation/s.

On a SEPARATE sheet of paper, please include your name, address, telephone number, email address and the name/s of your poems.

Cheques should be made payable to ‘The Pre-Raphaelite Society’.

Please send TWO COPIES of your poem/s and explanation/s, along with the entrance fee, and one copy of your personal details to:

The Competition Secretary, 21 Shaw Lane, Stoke Prior, Worcestershire B60 4DP

The judges’ decisions are final and no correspondence can be entered into.

Entry into the competition implies an understanding and acceptance of the Rules of Entry.


The John Pickard Essay Prize 2014

You are invited to enter a monograph of not more than 2000 words for The John Pickard Essay Prize. The monograph may be on any individual related to the Pre-Raphaelite circle.

The winner will receive £100 prize and publication in the Spring 2015 Review and subsequently the essays of runners-up may also be published. The final decision will be made by the Committee of the Pre-Raphaelite Society.

Entries are to be received by the Editor by 31st December 2014, and may be emailed to serena.trowbridge@bcu.ac.uk.


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