Getting into Ireland’s largest and longest running open submission exhibition

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of RHA catalogue 2023

To celebrate its 200th anniversary, here’s the extra-heavy, extra-fancy catalogue for the Royal Hibernian Academy of Arts Annual Exhibition  – and I’m in it!

During the month of February this year, four thousand, six hundred and seventy-five works of art were submitted digitally in the first stage of the selection process.  Over a five-day period, a special committee of RHA members viewed all these works and selected 660 for the second round.  Then these works were brought into the gallery for an actual viewing and, in the final round, 380 pieces were selected for exhibition.

It’s not easy.  There were 2,681 hopeful artists in the beginning, a lot of disappointed artists in the end.  This year, I was successful.

photo of Eoin Mac Lochlainn at the RHA Annual Exhibition 2023
Varnishing Day at the RHA Annual Exhibition     photo by David Fox

It was lovely to be at the traditional Varnishing Day to meet old friends and all the other successful artists. (I didn’t see anyone with pots of varnish, though, finally finishing off their paintings. That mustn’t be a ‘thing’ anymore).

Yes, and there was a lot of good work in the show but I couldn’t help feeling sorry for people who try year after year to get in, but end up being overlooked.  I’ve been on selection committees myself in the past and it really is difficult to decide whether or not to accept or reject a piece.  There’s always so many submissions and never enough space to hang them.

Anyway, the RHA Annual Exhibition is now open to the public and will continue until the 30th of July 2023.  It’s well worth a visit but – remember that it’s not the only show in town.  There are artists making work all the time, exhibiting in group shows and solo shows that never get the same exposure.  In my humble opinion, it’s better to go to a solo show to see and appreciate an artist’s work.

By the way, three of the artists from The Olivier Cornet Gallery are in the show this year.  Can you guess which ones?

Your comments are always welcome, down below the stupid adverts.

Mary A. Fitzgerald

Annual Exhibition – view the works online




  1. Comhgairdeachas, Eoin! Congrats on being among the chosen few for this year’s exhibition. You well deserve it!


  2. Congratulations Eoin, I’m delighted you made the cut. Well deserved. Lovely encouraging words to your fellow artists.


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