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Dream Big | Celebrating the incredible success of local artist, Georgina Heywood-Smith

Dream Big

Local engraver, Georgina (Gina) Heywood-Smith was recently selected by the Royal Academy to exhibit in their world-renowned summer exhibition alongside Royal Academicians including Grayson Perry, Rebecca Salter and Tracey Elmin. The exhibition is open to all artists to enter and each year the exhibition has a theme. This year the theme is ‘climate’. The number of entries is capped at 16500 and around 700 artists were selected in the final round.  


Gina entered an original print of ominous storm clouds over the Clifton Suspension Bridge, one of Bristol’s most iconic landmarks, designed by Brunel. Entitled, ‘Storm over Clifton’. This is Gina’s short written piece about the artwork:   


In light of our current climate crisis, I wanted to portray the foreboding and immediate presence of climate change impact – a storm that threatens and awaits us.

I created this original print during the cluster storms experienced in February 2022 (Dudley, Eunice, Franklin).

Depicting the agressive weather system, a swirling vortex of darkness travels up the severn estuary, in readiness to consume us. 

Selection Process

Gina’s work was selected in the category ‘Print’ by Royal Academician printmaker, Grayson Perry

Grayson Perry took responsibility for two print rooms in the exhibition, and the finalised version of the exhibition only happens on a day called ‘Sanctioning Day’, after the shortlisted work has been tried and tested on the walls over eight days. The summer exhibition dates back to 1769 and is stepped in history with the most fascinating traditions including ‘Sanctioning Day,’ Varnishing Day’, Beef Tea and the Artists’ blessing.

  •  Varnishing Day – traditionally when artists came in to varnish their work and add finishing touches. Now the day where selected artists are invited to attend a day of celebration in their honour.
  • Sanctioning Day – after eight days of hanging work and rounds of judging, the exhibition is finalised on Sanctioning Day by the RA committee members in their final meet. After which, no changes can be made.
  • Beef tea – a drink reserved for committee members on the final sanctioning day, as the exhibition is finalised. The recipe is secret and although it sounds like a mug of Bovril, we suspect it is more restorative.
  • Procession of artists – before visiting the show and seeing their work hanging on the walls of the beautiful Burlington House, the artists gather in the courtyard and form a procession down Piccadilly. This year to the beautiful sounds and energy of a steel band.
  • Artists’ Blessing – part of the procession takes the artists to St James’ Church for a blessing in a very special service for the artists.


The whole experience sounds so incredibly special. Gina is so talented and hardworking, but she also had a dream to exhibit with the RA and made it happen. It’s a big dream when you come from a small town.

To feel that you should enter, that you could get in – is a mindset. You’ve got to know why you want it.  We’re so proud of Gina because she is an awesome artist, and her success, the fact her print is hanging alongside the work of the Royal Acedemicans is so inspiring. She deserves to be there. It is right that someone as talented as her is there and her work can be seen by so many more people. ‘Storm over Clifton’ is a powerful piece expertly executed which expresses Gina’s response to this year’s RA summer exhibition theme – in her own unique style.  The whole exhibition is one of hope, despite the threats to our natural world. A wonderful eclectic mix of affordable art, selected on the merit of the work.  


We’re writing this blog to celebrate Gina’s success. We hope it will inspire other artists & makers who we know, who are incredibly talented to dream big and go for it.  You can be proud to come from a small town but there is a mindset in small towns, which can limit you if you let it. Don’t let it.


In Gina’s words:

“It’s been enlightening. It’s basically opened a whole new world for me.  Meeting other artists who were selected at Varnishing Day, I feel like I’m part of something bigger. Like I’m more connected. I like that it’s a public exhibition and it doesn’t matter who you are, you don’t have to be part of the elite art world to be accepted. The selection process is democratic. It’s broadened my perspective about my work. I feel like anything is possible. “


A few of Gina’s favourites works in the exhibition:

– Grayson Perry RA 

 Covid Bell (Sculpture/Bronze)


– Katheen Ryan

Bad Lemon (scuplture)


– Sir Christopher Le Brun PPRA

Harvest (Painting/oil)


– Georgia Peskett

Bathroom Study 1 (oil and wax on silk)


Local engrave Georgina Heywood-Smith selected for the RA Summer Exhibition

You can visit the RA Summer Exhibition 21 June — 21 August 2022

At Burlington House, Piccadilly,

London, W1J 0BD


Visit Gina’s Website at https://www.georginaheywoodsmith.com/original-prints

Follow Gina on Instagram @artist_georgina/


Gina’s work is proudly available to purchase all year round at Spacecraft Westbury,

24 – 26 Maristow Street, Westbury, Wiltshire, BA13 3DN. 

*Gina will be leading an engraving demonstration at the shop. News to follow and how to get tickets*


Gina will also be exhibiting selected pieces in her solo exhibition in Frome shortly at the WHY gallery, 3 Stony Street, Frome, BA111BU.  

Written by Ali Vermeeren



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