The RBA Rome Scholarship and the Rising Stars exhibit at the Royal Overseas League

The Rome Scholarship is limited to figurative art in painting, drawing,
printmaking or sculpture

Thanks to a special bursary, The Rome Scholarship is open to artists aged
18-35 who live, work or study in the UK.

The call for entries for the
Rome Scholarship 2023
closed earlier this year. Those entering have to provide six images of
recent work to be provided together with a completed application form (and a
very nominal fee). 

The prizes vary

Semi Finalists

  • Forty semi-finalists will have a work in the RBA’s RISING STARS
    Exhibition, which takes place in April 2023 at the Royal Over-Seas League
    in Mayfair, London


  • Three finalists will have a work in the RBA’s Annual Exhibition at Mall
    Galleries in 2024
  • The two runners-up will also receive a prize of £250 each

Winner of the Rome Scholarship

The Scholarship offers:

  • September 2023: Four weeks accommodation at Sala Uno, a highly prestigious gallery and
    international arts centre in the heart of Rome
  • Staying in a self-contained apartment, situated within a wonderful and
    extensive walled garden in the grounds of the gallery
  • Studio space which will be available within the gallery
  • Two meals per day, provided at a nearby restaurant
  • Return flights to Rome
  • £1000 prize money

Rising Stars Exhibition at the Royal Overseas League

You too
view this exhibition at the Royal Overseas League
in St. James. Admission is free and the exhibition is open to the public
between 10am and 5pm Monday to Friday.

The exhibition opened earlier this week and is on until 2nd July 2023.

View of the artwork around the stairwell

For those who cannot get to see it – and particularly for those who might be interested in a submission
for the 2024 Rome Scholarship
– I’ve also uploaded some photos I took
yesterday to an album on my Facebook Page.

RBA RISING STARS, produced in partnership with the Royal Society of
British Artists, showcases the extraordinary talent of 40 artists
shortlisted for RBA Rome Scholarship 2023.

This exhibition
captures creativity in the moment and showcases the trajectory of what
is yet to come in contemporary art practice from the relative viewpoint
of the present day. Amongst other awards for the finalists is a
one-month residency at Sala Uno, an arts centre in the heart of Rome.
The history of this collaboration with ROSL, which hosts the work of
young artists aged 35 and under, began in 2017 and acknowledges the
depth of emerging talent present across the UK in figurative forms of
contemporary art.

The artworks I liked the most

So what follows is not official – it’s just my view! 

Best artwork

By a country mile in my view. 

Could be because I like an original idea and good composition.. By which I mean I’ve seen various takes on presenting a classic shape (eg in a still life) against an interesting background to both ground it and make it look good – but I’ve never seen one quite like this! It’s a very interesting reminder that original art is essentially an interesting and innovative reworking of lines and tone on a two dimensional support to create images which persuade us they are three dimensional. I’m sure digital art is involved somewhere in this one, however what I like about it is this was emphatically not my first thought.  

Plus the artist executed it in ink – and as all know you can’t paint over mistakes in ink!

Ming Vase by Constantin Malmare
Ink on paper 70 x 50cm £800
(the yellow spot is a reflection)

Constantin Malmare was awarded a degree in Fine Arts and Illustration in 2015. He continued his studies in Italy at the Accademia Di Belle Arti Bologna. He’s now a Graphic Designer working in Birmingham. One of the sites which features him describes him as follows

Constantin Malmare works across video, installation, drawing, painting, print, collage and sculpture. He examines new ground in optics and creates artworks that ride the line between playfulness and existential concerns.

He desperately needs to get himself a decent website!

Best Contemporary Portrait

It did occur to me this might be a self-portrait based on a photograph – given its title of “December 98”. However it’s more painterly than photorealistic – which is a bonus in my book. For me, it reminded me of the kind of portrait I wouldn’t be surprised to see in the BP Portrait Award.

December 98 by Georgina Davenport
oil on canvas 75 x 105cm

Georgina Davenport draws monochromatically using coloured pencils and paints in oil. She can very definitely draw from life based on the evidence I’ve seen. She’s got a nice reel about her artwork last year on her Instagram account (see below) I like the fact she doesn’t try to dodge drawing and painting older people. She really needs to stop being shy and develop an “about me” page on her website.

Best Portrait with Art Historical Overtones

Self Portrait at 23 (III) by Aniela Preston 
acrylic on canvas 50 x 50cm

I liked this one because it was mixing art historical motifs (shades of Lorenzetti out the windows) with contemporary features (note the two plug points mid right).

Aniela Preston says about her work

My work aims to portray the relationship of the individual within the natural world. I am drawn to classical figures within art, and in my paintings, I place them within unnatural spaces and settings. I take inspiration from the narrative nature of religious artworks, and my paintings likewise dramatize secular scenes.

I was rather surprised when I looked at my photograph to realise this was box canvas with unfinished edges/sides. Naughty! Not recommended for art competitions….

I can’t quite work out whether she is studying at (or studied at) Leeds University but I rather think she has graduated. Yet another artist badly in need of a proper website of her very own.

Best Urban Landscape

Emilia Chubb does something quite rare – she paints people in real urban contexts. Few artists who paint people do this. Rather a lot of people who like to paint urban landscapes also like to avoid painting people. It’s very pleasing to see a young artist who documents real life.

Her about me page on her website – which comes complete with a pic (big tick from me) says

Emilia Chubb (b.1997) is an expressionistic painter who captures the world as it goes by on canvas.

Nosing around in cafes and markets for inspiration, Emilia grasps the spirit of a place using bold, vibrant colours. Her London Cityscapes aim to be delightfully nostalgic and full of character.

I can see Emilia going far. It’s the sort of artwork which appeals to a lot of young buyers of contemporary figurative art. 

Emilia graduated in 2020 from the Courtauld Institute of Art, where she studied History of Art, BA (Hons). She also studied Fine Art at UAL, Chelsea College of Art, and has a Foundation Diploma in Fashion and Textiles from UCA – which I suspect might well account for an interest in drawing and painting people in current fashion.

You can buy her art on her website.

Best Rural Landscape

I don’t often see young artists painting landscapes so it was a pleasant surprise to see a snow scene.

Snow Scene by Chris Polunin
oil on linen, 70 x 60cm £3,800

What I liked about this snow scene is it’s very “real” without being in any way hyperrealistic. That said, I’m not sure it’s a distinctive style I’d recognise anywhere.

I am a classically trained painter with a strong interest in capturing nature in all its forms.

He’s also won a few competitions and awards already 

Winner of the Winsor & Newton Prize (NEAC 2021) and the Stanley Quek Prize in 2019, he was shortlisted for the Contemporary Young Artist Award (2018, 2019) and the New Light Prize (2020).

Runner Up Still Life (after my Best Artwork!)

Mushrooms Tagliatelle by Hunky Dory
acrylic on canvas 111.7 x 81.2cm

A very fun piece crammed with interest painted in a highly stylised way plus a very interesting palette in which pink features everywhere! I can see this having a lot of appeal to young contemporary art collectors.

I can’t tell you a thing about the artist as they’ve used a pseudonym – which I’m actually not in favour of in an art competition. I’m assuming the jurors were able to independently establish the age of the artist…..

Exhibiting Artists

The 40 Artists included in the exhibition are:

  • Lucrezia Abatzoglu 
  • Verity Amelia 
  • Nicholas Baldion 
  • Thomas Cameron 
  • Emilia Chubb 
  • Rebekah Coop 
  • Niamh Coutts 
  • Georgina Davenport 
  • Dide 
  • Joshua Donkor 
  • JJ Eteson 
  • Emily Hana 
  • Jack Handscombe 
  • Aelfred Hillman 
  • Iman Howard 
  • Peng Huang 
  • Ottelien Huckin 
  • Hunky Dory 
  • Owain Hunt 
  • Hettie Inniss 
  • Sam B. Kennedy 
  • Jemima Lanario 
  • Tedi Lena 
  • Maria Lysenko 
  • Rosie O’Mahony 
  • Constantin Malmare 
  • Emilio Bartolome Martin 
  • Rufus Martin 
  • Susie Olczak 
  • Samuel Owusu Achiaw 
  • Robyn Packham 
  • Chris Polunin 
  • Aniela Preston 
  • Luisa Rivera 
  • SaeRi Seo 
  • Jemima Spence 
  • Lu Wenjuan 
  • Nikolas Wereszczyński 
  • Jiaxin Wu