Royal Society of Sculptors

The Royal Society of Sculptors (RSS) is British charity established in 1905 which promotes excellence in the art and practice of sculpture. Its headquarters is a centre for contemporary sculpture, on Old Brompton Road, South Kensington, London.[1] It is the oldest and largest organisation dedicated to sculpture in the UK.[2] Until 2017 it was the Royal British Society of Sculptors.[3]

Royal Society of Sculptors
RBS 4.jpg
RSS headquarters at 108 Old Brompton Road
Established1905; 116 years ago (1905)
Clare Burnett
Vice President
Almuth Tebbenhoff
Formerly called
Society of British Sculptors (1905-11)
Royal Society of British Sculptors (1911-2003)
Royal British Society of Sculptors (2003-2017)

RSS is a registered charity, with a selective membership of around 600 professional sculptors, which promotes excellence in the art and practice of sculpture. It aims to inspire, inform and engage people of all ages and backgrounds with sculpture, and to support sculptors' development of their practice to the highest professional standards.


  • 1905 – Began as the Society of British Sculptors, with 51 sculptor members in its first year[4][5]
  • 1911 – Received royal patronage, and was renamed the Royal Society of British Sculptors[6]
  • 1963 – Gained charitable status in recognition of its educational activities[7]
  • 1976 – Received donation of 108 Old Brompton Rd from the late sculptor Cecil Thomas[8]
  • 2003 – Became Royal British Society of Sculptors in recognition of growing international membership[9]
  • 2017 - Became the Royal Society of Sculptors.[3]



The society has received Royal Patronage since 1911 and Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II is the society's current Patron.


The society was founded as a company limited by guarantee in 1905[10] and has been a registered charity since 1963.[11] It is a selective membership based organisation, whose members elect its governing council, who are both Trustees and Directors. The council meet regularly to review applications and select new members.[12][13]


There are two types of membership: Members (formerly known as Associates until 2014[14]) and Fellows, who are entitled to use the MRSS and FRSS post-nominal letters. Presidents of the society are entitled to use the post-nominal letters PRSS.[15]



First Plinth: Public Art AwardEdit

Formerly FIRST@108: Public Art Award,[16] the First Plinth is a biennial £10,000 award to contribute towards the production costs of producing a large-scale sculpture, thereby offering competing sculptors the opportunity to extend their practice into competing for public art commissions. Open to any artist working in three dimensions.[17] The award is supported by the Mirisch & Lebenheim Charitable Foundation.[18]

Past winners[19]Edit

Grizedale ResidencyEdit

With thanks to the Brian Mercer Charitable Trust the Society offers an annual residency opportunity based at Grizedale Forest. This intensive six week long residency aims to foster experimentation and innovation in response to the natural environment.

Past Winners

  • Karolin Schwab (2019)
  • Ben Allan (2019)


Founded in 2017, Contemporary Sculpture Fulmer is a private sculpture park in Buckinghamshire which surveys the breadth of contemporary sculptural practice. The park was established with the aim of offering a space for sculptural experimentation, development and dialogue. Alongside the annual exhibition programme, the park creates opportunities for artists to engage, exhibit and share their ideas. The annual spotlight award gives Contemporary Sculpture Fulmer a chance to work directly with the membership of The Royal Society of Sculptors; each year the Society members are invited to apply for the opportunity to present a solo installation within a cleared area of woodland. The successful applicant is selected and mentored through the process by Brooke Benington directors George Marsh and Lily Brooke. There is no restriction to the style, medium or scale of the work but applicants are asked to consider the environment in which the work will ultimately be exhibited.

Past Winners

  • Rosie Leventon (2020)
  • Amale Freiha Khlat (2019)
  • Marco Miehling (2018)

Thread ResidencyEdit

Thread is a residency program and cultural centre that allows local and international artists to live and work in Sinthian, a rural village in Tambacounda, the southeastern region of Senegal. It houses two artists’ dwellings, as well as ample indoor and outdoor studio space.

Past Winners

  • Julian Wild (2020)

Red House ResidencyEdit

For Benjamin Britten – one of the foremost composers of the 20th century – a quiet place to compose was absolutely essential. He was fortunate enough to achieve this for most of his life, spending his last two decades at The Red House, down a quiet lane on the outskirts of Aldeburgh, Suffolk. This new creative retreat at The Red House is open to women members of the Royal Society of Sculptors to spend time in Suffolk on a peaceful, creative retreat.

Past Winners

  • Hannah Honeywill (2020)

Gilbert Bayes AwardEdit

Established in 2000 as the RBS Bursary Awards,[25] it was renamed in 2018 after the artist Gilbert Bayes, whose charitable trust supports the awards.[26] This is an annual award made to a small group of emerging sculptors that the society has judged to be of outstanding talent and potential. It is designed to aid them in the transition to full professional practice, by giving them a package of professional support including an annual membership of the society. The award is open to sculptors of any age, nationality, with or without formal training and working in any medium. Past winners include: Alex Chinneck, Tessa Farmer and William Mackrell.

Past AwardsEdit

Brian Mercer ResidenciesEdit

Two annual scholarships for society members to experiment with stone or bronze under instruction from master craftsmen in Pietrasanta, Italy enable sculptors to learn the technical aspects of the carving or casting process were supported by the Brian Mercer Charitable Trust.[27]

Otto Beit medalEdit

For many years the society awarded the Otto Beit medal, named after and funded by the philanthropist Sir Otto Beit.[28] Winners of the medal include:

Sculpture ShockEdit

Launched in 2013, Sculpture Shock encouraged surprising site-specific spatial interventions in non-traditional spaces outside the confines of a gallery. Three sculptors were awarded £3,000 and a three-month residency in Kensington. The artists then exhibited in one of three environments: Subterranean (the unseen world underneath the city), Ambulatory (without physical confines in movement through space and time) and Historic (an illustrious building in London). Sculpture Shock was supported by private philanthropists.[53]

External linksEdit


  1. ^ Oliver Gili (7 March 2008). "Steel at The Royal British Society of Sculptors". Londonist. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  2. ^ Public Art Scotland. "Companies: Royal British Society of Sculptors". Archived from the original on 28 January 2015. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  3. ^ a b "History". Royal Society of Sculptors. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  4. ^ Dennis Wardleworth (2013). William Reid Dick, Sculptor. Ashgate. p. 39. ISBN 9781409439714. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  5. ^ Galería Aina Nowack, Madrid (November 2014). "Noticias: "LO" miembro de la Royal British Society of Sculptors".
  6. ^ Dr. Emmanuel Minne. "A brief history of the society from 1904 to the present". University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  7. ^ Open Charities: A new project to open up the UK Charities Register. "Royal British Society of Sculptors". Online database. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  8. ^ Victoria and Albert Museum (2014). "Leonard Walker (1879–1965)". V&A Search the Collections (online database). Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  9. ^ Charity Commission. "212513 – Royal British Society of Sculptors: Other Names". Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  10. ^ "ROYAL SOCIETY OF SCULPTORS - Overview (free company information from Companies House)". Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  11. ^ "Charity Details". Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  12. ^ Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851–1951 (2011). "Royal Society of British Sculptors – Rules". University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, online database. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  13. ^ Selma Stern (2003). "The UK's Sculptural Newcomers". NY Arts Magazine. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  14. ^ Royal British Society of Sculptors > Past Members Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  15. ^ "Membership". Royal Society of Sculptors. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  16. ^ Tom Flynn (3 February 2009). ""Huh? Wow!"- New UK Public Sculpture Prize Awarded". The Art Key.
  17. ^ "First Plinth | Royal Society of Sculptors". Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  18. ^ "Public Art Online News - FIRST@108 Public Art Award". Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  19. ^ a b "Past Winners | Royal Society of Sculptors". Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  20. ^ "FIRST@108 Public Art Award 2017: Playground sculpture wins £10,000 prize - a-n The Artists Information Company". Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  21. ^ "FIRST@108: Public Art Award 2015 – Invitation to the unveiling of The Dispensary". The Gallery Guide. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  22. ^ "First@108 Public Art Award Exhibition | Art in London". Time Out London. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  23. ^ "First@108 Public Art Award: Horizon Pavilion - Exhibition at Royal Society of Sculptors in London". ArtRabbit. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  24. ^ "Robert Worley: Avatar". Canary Wharf. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  25. ^ Degree Art (2014). "RBS Bursary Award". Archived from the original on 23 February 2015. Retrieved 23 February 2015.
  26. ^ "Scholarships / Grants | Gilbert Bayes". Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  27. ^ Time Out (2014). "Brian Mercer Residencies: Ed Jones And Richard Stone". Retrieved 23 February 2015.
  28. ^ Artist Biographies: British and Irish Artists of the 20th Century. "Royal British Society of Sculptors". Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  29. ^ "Estcourt James Clack - Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951". Retrieved 10 January 2020.
  30. ^ "From out notebook: Michael Clark's "Assumption"". The Tablet. 26 November 1960.
  31. ^ Public Sculpture of Sussex. "Michael Clark – Biography". University of Brighton. Archived from the original on 21 February 2015. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  32. ^ "Family Group". Public Monuments and Sculpture Association. Archived from the original on 18 January 2016. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  33. ^ David Buckman (8 October 2004). "Michael Rizzello: Portrait sculptor and coin designer". The Independent – Obituaries.
  34. ^ Anne Mayhew (2013). "Karl Spreitz and Collaborators Archival Film Collection: Elza Mayhew (1916–2004)". University of British Columbia. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  35. ^ Public Monuments & Sculpture Association. "National Recording Project: Mother and Child". Archived from the original on 29 April 2014. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  36. ^ Humberto Rasi (March 1983). "Parables In Stone – An Interview With Alan Collins" (PDF). These Times. p. 3. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  37. ^ "Noordhoek, Henry Cecil". Canadian Heritage Information Network. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  38. ^ Public Monuments & Sculpture Association. "National Recording Project: Anne Boleyn". Archived from the original on 1 September 2012. Retrieved 5 December 2016.
  39. ^ David Buckman (16 November 2009). "A. John Poole: Sculptor, letter-cutter and restorer whose love of architecture informed his monumental works". The Independent – Obituaries.
  40. ^ Daily Express (1997). "Ipswich Sculpture Trail". Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  41. ^ Public Monuments & Sculpture Association. "National Recording Project: Oracle". Archived from the original on 21 February 2015. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  42. ^ Landscape Institute (2011). "Case Studies: Stevenage Town Centre Gardens". Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  43. ^ ArtParks International. "John Mills Sculptor Profile". Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  44. ^ The John Bunting Foundation (2012). "Royal British Society of Sculptors". Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  45. ^ Saint Edmund's Catholic Church. "Saint Edmund's Calne: The church: Seán Crampton". Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  46. ^ National Galleries of Scotland. "David Annand: Biography". Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  47. ^ The Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts. "Alastair R Ross CSTJ RSA RGI FRBS FSA HFRIAS DArts". Archived from the original on 21 February 2015. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  48. ^ Terry Wyke & Harry Cocks (2004). Public Sculpture of Greater Manchester. Liverpool University Press. p. 438. ISBN 9780853235675.
  49. ^ The Horsham Society (April 2005). "The sculpture of Lorne McKean & Edwin Russell". Archived from the original on 23 July 2011. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  50. ^ Public Sculpture of Sussex. "Philip Jackson – Biography". University of Brighton. Archived from the original on 22 February 2015. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  51. ^ Debrett's. "Robert Simon ERSKINE – Biography". Archived from the original on 21 February 2015. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  52. ^ Royal Academy of Arts. "Profile: Ann Christopher RA". Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  53. ^ Christopher Williams (19 April 2013). "Art News: Sculpture Shock: Subterranean art from David Ogle". Telegraph.

Coordinates: 51°29′29″N 0°10′45″W / 51.4913°N 0.1793°W / 51.4913; -0.1793