RWA Secret Postcard Auction 2023

Royal West of England Academy
October 2023
05:00 PM BST
November 2023
10:30 PM GMT
GOAL £45,000.00
208.2% REACHED!

About Our Auction


What is the RWA Secret Postcard Auction?

The Secret Postcard Auction offers you the chance to purchase unique works of art by a range of artists, including leading figures from the art and cultural world.

All artworks are signed on the back, so buyers either have to guess who the big name artists are or just buy what they like. Bidding on each work starts at just £40, which is a very reasonable price for a unique piece of art, and if it turns out to be by an internationally famous artist, you'll have secured an heirloom for a bargain price!

This year, as last year, we are hosting the auction online only, however the artworks will be available to view at the RWA in person from 4 – 9 November 2023.

Which artists are participating?

A full list of artists can be found on our webpage here.

How big are the artworks?

Unless otherwise stated, all pieces measure c.7" x 5" (19 x 14 cm)... so a generous size for a ‘postcard’! These truly are artworks to grace any wall.

Please note: we have done our best to present the most accurate representation of each artwork, but colours may vary from what is shown on screen.

Are the artworks signed?

Yes - we have asked the artists to sign their works on the back, so you either have to guess who the big name artists are or just bid on what you like. Each postcard is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the RWA Director.

What time does the online event start and when does bidding close?
Bidding opens on Saturday 28 October and will close at 10pm on Thursday 09 November.

PLEASE NOTE: To help items achieve their full value and to reduce ‘auction sniping’, our auction platform automatically extends the end time of an item by 3 minutes when it receives a bid during the final 3 minutes. This process repeats until no new bids are received during the final 3 minutes of the item bidding window, or the auction has been extended for a maximum of 30 minutes beyond the original end time.

How do I bid online?

Bids start at £40. Each bid must be at least £5 more than the previous bid. There is no limit on how many bids each postcard can receive or how many each bidder can make, so if someone outbids you, feel free to increase your bid to outbid them! If your bid is the highest by the close of the online event (around 10pm on 09 November) then you win!

A proxy bid allows you to enter the maximum amount you're willing to spend with the goal of winning the item at the lowest possible price. The system will bid for you, up to your maximum proxy bid amount, as additional bids are entered on the item. An exact bid is the amount you want the item's current bid price to jump to immediately . Your bid amount will not change as additional bids are entered on the item.

Please note that you will need to create an account before you can place a bid.

Will I be notified If I am outbid?

Yes on the email you signed up with. Make sure to keep an eye on your emails!

If I win, how do I pay?

You will receive an email confirmation directing you to pay online for your winning lots. Please be sure to check the email you signed up with.

When do I need to have paid by?

Please note if you have not paid within 72 hours of the auction ending (11pm on Sunday 12 November) then we reserve the right to offer the item to the second highest bidder, and to preclude your involvement in future auctions.

Can I remove bids whilst the auction is in progress?

If you accidentally enter the wrong amount and need to remove a bid, please contact the auction administrators as soon as possible on Please note bids can only be removed if we are notified of the error within 12 hours of it being placed, and no bids can be removed once the auction has ended (see below).

Can I change my mind if I no longer want an artwork and the auction has ended?

No: a bid on this item is considered a contract, and should you win the item you are obliged to purchase it. The name of the artist will only be revealed once payment for this item has been received. Please ensure that you have read pick the shipping instructions before bidding.

When will all the artists and their works be revealed?

Once all buyers have received their artworks, this site will close and all artworks will instead be viewable on, which will include the artists' names, so you can see if you were right in your hunch about whose was whose! We do not publicise the winning bid amounts for each postcard.

How will I receive my winning postcard/postcards?

Most postcards will be sent by Royal Mail Special Delivery Signed For, insured up to the value of £1000. The charge for this service starts from £9.65. Especially large or heavy postcards, or those with a higher bid value, may incur slightly higher postage fees - this will be indicated on the auction lot. International delivery is also available by arrangement.

Insured delivery may be requested in special circumstances by contacting

What if I don’t have regular access to a computer, or if I’m busy on the night the auction ends? Can I leave a proxy bid?

If you have intermittent access to a computer then you can leave a proxy bid and the computer will bid for you. Please scroll up to read ‘How do I bid online?’ for more information on proxy bidding.

Where do the proceeds go?

All proceeds raised by the sale of the cards will go towards supporting the RWA, which is a completely independent charity (1070163)

Our outstanding building is now one of the most accessible Art Galleries in Britain, and we work in partnership with some of Bristol’s most under-represented communities, both on and offsite, to light up lives with art and creativity for a huge range of people, including those with extreme wellbeing challenges. With less than 1% of our funding from the public purse, in these challenging times, we need your support more than ever so that we can continue this valuable work.

“We’re so grateful to all the artists who have been so generous in donating work to support the RWA as a charity. It’s great fun trying to guess whose is whose, and whatever your taste or purse, with bids starting at £40 and the chance to snap up a unique artwork that will bring joy for years (and may be worth thousands), please do join in, and dig deep to support us" - Alison Bevan, RWA Director

Can I make a larger donation?

If you would be willing to consider making a larger donation to the RWA, please contact our Head of Development, Kate Foster

About Royal West of England Academy

The RWA has been bringing great art to Bristol since 1844. We are unique not just in Bristol, but in the UK, in being a purpose-built Royal Academy of Art: somewhere that not only exhibits the best of historic and contemporary art, but that also nurtures new talent for the future, and does so using one of the most beautiful exhibition spaces in the country.

Last year’s Secret Postcard Auction raised almost £75,000 for the RWA's work, engaging some of Bristol's most vulnerable communities, at the RWA and in the community.

Thanks to such support, we are now recognised for making art and creativity accessible for everyone, which we have done through developing meaningful, respectful and lasting relationships with some of Bristol's most underserved communities. We do all this with less than 1% of our costs covered from the public purse, and in the face of the current cost of living crisis it is harder than ever to do this, so the Secret Postcard Auction is essential for this work to continue.

Other projects we’re working on, or have been working on, with communities recently include:-

• Tuesday Teatime Tours for people living with dementia and their companions
• Projects and exhibitions with disabled adults
• School holiday workshops for families and children and school group visits to exhibitions
• Happy Mondays sessions for autistic children and children with profound and multiple learning disabilities
• Free family Scribble and Sketch creative sessions in four areas of deprivation in Bristol
• Relaxed tours of the exhibition for babies under 12 months and their parents and work at Southmead Hospital for mothers with severe postnatal depression and their babies

“This is a great opportunity for people to explore a wealth of art by both famous and emerging artists, whilst at the same time supporting the continuation of our acclaimed work as an arts charity. Every ‘postcard’ – in reality, a small original artwork – is completely unique, and you could potentially walk away with a work from an internationally famous artist for a fraction of its value, so I encourage everyone to join us online for the auction and browse this exceptional range of artworks, so generously donated.” Alison Bevan, RWA Director

Registered Charity No 1070163

Learn More