Penguins for the Pension Insurance Corporation

2013 was an ice-cool year for The Pension Insurance Corporation.

They wanted to decorate the 11 meeting rooms, and 2 public spaces of their Cornhill office, with art that would be admired by clients, enjoyed by staff, that would be a smart investment and that would extol their values as a company. To PIC, the penguin represents focus, dedication and adaptability- traits they relate to. Every PIC meeting room is named after a different species of penguin, the company logo also comprises two penguins. The project also grew out of then CEO John Coomber's commitment to sustainability, environmentally-conscious business practices and conservation. Enlisting members of the SWLA (Society of Wildlife Artists) who are keen advocates of understanding wildlife in it's natural habitat and any forces such as climate change that may affect that, seemed in line with PIC's brief.  Engaging Chris Rose and Bruce Pearson, who have actually been to the Antarctic to draw penguins from life was also a major addition to the project. Several newly graduated artists were also enlisted (enabling PIC to fulfil another of their wants from this project; to support young and emerging artists); and ultimately one artist was commissioned for each space.


Each artist was to interpret their designated species of penguin in their own style. First, they had to learn more about penguins. Chris and Bruce shared their previous experience and research throughout the project, but if ever there were an excuse for a trip to London Zoo, this was it! The artists observed and drew penguins from life, then developed their ideas in a group workshop. The day ended with a drinks reception at the Mall Galleries, where PIC shared the project with their clients. Sketches were presented and SWLA members also gave a presentation on penguins, sharing their experiences of travelling in the Antarctic.





To inaugurate the 33 works of art, PIC held an unveiling event at their office. Guests arrived to find artists drawing penguins on the reception walls (PIC have since decided to leave the drawings there). As the night went on, each artist was stationed in their meeting room, alongside their work, and a few conducted workshops on drawing penguins. The event concluded with a silent auction of artists’ preparatory sketches to raise money for the SWLA (a registered charity). Feedback on the evening, project and artworks was extremely positive.

To commemorate the project PIC produced a coffee-table book The Art of Penguin Insurance which documented the project as well providing illustrations of each artwork. 





Adelie - Dafila Scott             African - Eleanor Watson      Emperor - Adam Binder



Emperor - Adam Binder     Anna Ilsley - Fiordland      Galapagos - Antonia Phillips



Gentoo - Fran Giffard        Humboldt - Dolores de Sade  King - Bruce Pearson



Macaroni - Chris Rose         Rockhopper - Michael McManus  Royal - Gemma Anderson


Penguin Map - Francisca Prieto


Final Works

Work ranged from origami using maps, to bronze sculpture. Dolores de Sade depicted her Humbolt penguins in the library of their discoverer, Alexander von Humbolt. Fran Giffard’s Gentoo penguins were precisely and scientifically recorded, where Chris Rose’s piece was composed primarily of ocean. Eleanor Watson depicted her African penguins in a zoo setting, whilst Anna Ilsley prefered to depict the fascinating South Island, home of the Fiordland penguin.


Adelie - Dafila Scott           African - Eleanor Watson   African - Eleanor Watson   



Emperor - Adam Binder   Fiordland - Anna Ilsley       Galapagos  Antonia Phillip



Galapagos -             Gentoo - Fran Giffard           Humboldt - Dolores de Sade

Antonia Phillips



Humboldt - Delores de Sade  Little Penguin - Nadine Collinson   Little Penguin - Nadine Collinson


Macaroni - Chris Rose             Rockhopper - Michael McManus   Rockhopper - Michael McManus


Royal - Gemma Anderson   Royal - Gemma Anderson   Penguin Map - Francisca Prieto


Commissioning a Portrait

Learn about commissioning portraiture with Annabel Elton, Mall Galleries' Commissions Consultant. Annabel will be on hand throughout the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition (10 - 25 May) to help visitors with their portrait enquiries, and to explain and advise on commissioning art. Visit the gallery to see the very best in contemporary portraiture, and have your commissions questions answered by a top expert in the field.

To find out more, visit

Commission Case Study: Old Harry Rocks

Old Harry Rocks by Jenny Morgan RSMA

A brief to paint a historical scene of Old Harry Rocks in Dorset is bought to life by Jenny Morgan RSMA.


Jenny Morgan, renowned for her accurate portrayal of historical vessels and mastery of painting water, became a member of the Royal Society of Marine Artists (RSMA) in 2009. This same year, coincidentally, Simon Hodgson first saw her work at a show in Cowes while sailing around the Isle of Wight, and was impressed by her oil painting of a Pilot Cutter. A collector of 18th and 19th century marine paintings, Simon was eager to turn a print from a book by Dominic Serres into an oil painting, so with the help of Mall Galleries art consultants, commissioned Jenny to bring his vision to life.

According to Jenny, ‘the scene typifies what one might view if about in Studland Bay in, say, circa 1790. This was a safe anchorage from westerly winds and shows a sloop-ship (main vessel centre) preparing to sail off on a mission once two officers have boarded, shown in the foreground where the ship’s boat is being rowed by seamen.’ To the left, a frigate (a 17th Century term for warships built for speed and maneuverability) approaches the bay to anchor and receive orders. The piece is infused with the anticipation and action of the Napoleonic Wars.

Not only is the scene historically interesting, but the setting of Old Harry Rocks, the most easterly point of the Jurassic coast and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, holds meaning for him. ‘I have known the chalk cliffs of this part of the Dorset Coast for most of my life. For the past twelve years, I’ve spent a great deal of time walking towards those cliffs and waking up seeing them in the distance. I am aware of the history of smuggling in the area: a history that continues today with Border Force Cutters anchoring under the cliffs where they are hidden from the view of the vessels crossing the channel. There are also memories of sailing there with my father, rowing ashore for a drink in the Bankes Arms and sailing back into Poole at dusk. Indeed, I taught my youngest daughter to sail under those cliffs, and both daughters have ridden horses along the beach. We have walked our dogs along the shore, and listened to the deer calling across the heath as the sun sets when no one else was around.’ It is an area Simon associates with significant and happy moments of his life.

Simon and Jenny share this tenderness for the stunning chalk stacks of Old Harry and Old Harry’s Wife. ‘I used to sail to Studland Bay and Poole during the 1970s so know the area well and have anchored many times in the same bay,’ says Jenny. ‘Sadly due to much erosion over the eras, all that remains of these stacks nowadays is a mere stump, but the bay is there off the Dorset Coast, an area of outstanding natural beauty ashore.’ Simon is pleased with the outcome of his commission and eager to find the perfect place for it to hang and remind him of the immense beauty and intriguing history Old Harry Rocks.

Mall Galleries Art Consultants guide you through the process of commissioning.  With their extensive knowledge and experience they help you choose an artist, oversee contracts and facilitate a neutral mediation between client and artist throughout. Get in touch to discuss your own commissions project today.


Talk to our art consultants


By Anna Preston

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Old Harry Rocks by Jenny Morgan RSMA

Toby Ward on Painting Architecture

Toby Ward talks us through his commissions for St-Martin-in-the-Fields, the Royal Opera House and Lincoln Cathedral.

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St Martins in the Fields by Toby Ward Church Art Commission

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Chastleton House by Toby Ward NEAC

Melissa Scott-Miller talks House Portraits

In this episode of our series of artist talks, Commissioning Conversation, Melissa Scott-Miller talks about painting portraits of Islington houses, the view from the roof of John Lewis and the client who wanted Santa Claus painted into the picture. 



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Islington Street with Wysteria by Melissa Scott-Miller NEAC RP

Still Lifes by A Portrait Painter

Fiddler's Hill Nest by Miriam Escofet AssocRP Still Life Commissions

Miriam Escofet AssocRP talks about the Still Lifes she painted using her client's collections of objects


Fiddler's Hill Nest

The owner of this painting lives in a farm in Wiltshire. He particularly admired one of my previous paintings on the theme of a bird’s nest and wanted something very similar, but very particularly depicting certain eggs and insects from his collection. As a child he would collect bird’s eggs with his father and he has very fond memories of this, they amassed quite an impressive selection of all kinds of eggs, kept in old tobacco tins and cushioned with tufts of wool. Most of the eggs in the painting come from his collection. The inclusion of a death head moth and other British butterflies were also specific requests.


Inkwells on Blue

This commission was loosely based on a previous still life painting also on the theme of inkwells and drawing implements. The painting combines objects belonging to the clients with objects from my own still life materials. It is somewhat based on Dutch Golden Age still life paintings in terms of lighting and layout and later was used in a photo-shoot for Wallpaper* magazine on the theme of Patrick Caulfield’s paintings.



Hear Miriam talking about her commissioned work in our series of Artist Talks Commissioning Conversation


An artwork commission is a personalised experience that is different for everyone, at Mall Galleries we employ Commission Consultants to guide you through the process of commissioning an artwork from choosing an artist to choosing an artwork that is suitable for your home or business.

If you would like to find out more information regarding commissioning an artwork or book a private consultation, click here.


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Inkwells on Blue by Miriam Escofet AssocRP Still Life Commissions

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Fiddler's Hill Nest by Miriam Escofet AssocRP

A ceramics collection as the basis of a still life

Interior with Ceramics by Charles Hardaker RBA Still Life Ceramics Collection Commission

One of our most touching commissions at Mall Galleries was a wedding gift of a highly personal still life painting using the couple’s ceramics collection.  The wedding gift had taken the form of a gift voucher contributed to by the couple’s friends and presented by Mall Galleries in a white gift box containing literature on how to begin the process of commissioning.   The couple decided that what they would like to do is commission an artist to respond to their ceramics collection and having looked through our Artist Explorer resource, they came up with Charles Hardaker. Charles was more than responsive to the commission and as his studio wasn’t too far away, the couple dropped off several of their ceramics pieces for him to work with.  The painting that came out of the commission was in Charles’ typical modernist style with muted colours and a door opening towards the light.

Portrait of a Family House

Mill Farm by Graham Webber ROI House portrait Commissions

For her husband’s birthday, Monica Tudor commissioned a portrait of their Oxfordshire farmhouse, which was soon to go on the market, by artist Graham Webber ROI.  Monica wanted the house depicted in spring time but she needed a gift to present to her husband on his birthday in late winter.  Mall Galleries sent Monica a commissions gift box announcing the commission, explaining how in the coming months the artist would arrive onsite to paint the farmhouse in full bloom along with examples of Graham’s portfolio.

Monica explains the experience in her own words below:

“With the approaching milestone of my husband's 60th and impending sale of our much loved home, I decided that a portrait of our house would be an inspired idea.  But where to start?  Google just brought up hundreds of names which meant nothing and as a result things were beginning to look gloomy.  However, in amongst the gloom, I came across the Mall Galleries and decided that they would be a good point at which to start.  How right I was!

Their website alone is inspiring.  It provides you with a list of all their members with photographic examples of their works, enabling you to choose the artist with the style that you are looking for.  Anna Bromwich could not have been more helpful, guiding me through the process and providing me with a lovely 'gift box' to present the birthday boy.

The actual execution of the 'gift' was a wonderful experience - liaising with the artist to decide on which season to choose, meeting him on the day and watching the creation of the "working sketch" on sight was fascinating.  The whole family is thrilled with the result.

The experience was so enjoyable and seamlessly organised by Anna from start to finish. Highly recommended!”


                            - Monica Tudor, 2016

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Mill Farm by Graham Webber ROI House portrait Commissions

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Mill Farm by Graham Webber ROI

Commission for a 1950s modernist church and its vicarage

Let there be Light- St Cuthbert's by Peter Vincent PS

One of our most niche commissions to date was a portrait of a modern 1950s church in North London. 

The client, the church’s vicar, had seen the 2015 FBA exhibition The Painted Parish' online and was inspired to commission an artist to paint his own place of worship.  Mall Galleries art advisors put together a portfolio of possible artists and Peter Vincent PS was chosen. Peter had previously been commissioned by us to paint the Royal Automobile Club’s Art Deco swimming pool, therefore seemed a perfect fit for a 20th century building portrait. 

The resulting pastel works, two paintings of the interior and exterior, were a memento of the exchange between a reverend and an artist in the shadow of a modernist church. 

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Let there be Light- St Cuthbert's by Peter Vincent PS

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St Cuthberts by Peter Vincent PS

The Royal Automobile Club Exhibitions and Commissions

The RAC Snow Effect by Ken Howard OBE RA

In 2011, the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) reached it’s centenary year. In commemoration of this, they invited 26 artists to paint the Club’s two stunning premises in Central London and Surrey, culminating in a large exhibition for the Club’s members.  The artists were given free reign of the two clubs on a day of their choice and asked to produce paintings for a final exhibition.

Ken Howard OBE and Pete ‘the Street’ Brown NEAC RP chose external views of the RAC on Pall Mall, in winter and summer respectively, with red buses hurtling past it’s façade.

Some, such as Sue Ryder RP NEAC and Robbie Wraith RP chose to depict the vast gold-gilded dining room whereas, others ventured outside to the terrace where the Club backs out onto the private gardens of Carlton House Terrace.

At Woodcote Park, the Club’s country home, the artists took in the sweeping views and the parked vintage cars on show, reminding members of summer days spent there.

The final exhibition was extremely well-received, with many members taking home paintings of their club. We have been commissioning exhibitions with the RAC every year since.


The Club Room by Glyns Ambrose PS

End of the Day Pall Mall by Peter Brown NEAC RP

Morning in the Great Gallery by Roger Dellar ROI

Fine Dining Preparations by Pauline Fazakerley RI

Members Sitting Room by Felicity House PS

The RAC Snow Effect by Ken Howard OBE RA

Dining with Roses by Sue Ryder NEAC RP

The Front of the RAC Club by Melissa Scott-Miller NEAC RP

Reflected Grandeur by Peter Vincent PS

The Grand Gallery II by Robbie Wraith RP

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A Club Room Desk

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Snow Effect by Ken Howard RA OBE