Updates from Mall Galleries Art Consultancy - specialising in commissioning and curating fine art for private collectors, corporate clients and interior designers.

Penguins for the Pension Insurance Corporation


An ice-cool project 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. 

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.


Commissioning a Painting of Your Garden

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Here, Mistu Gray shares how she fell for Melissa Scott-Miller's RP RBA NEAC charming depictions of Islington, Roy Wright discusses a commission that brought him to the Isle of Wight and Anne-Marie Butlin explains the process of understanding her client's needs.

Mistu Gray first came across Melissa Scott-Miller’s RP RBA NEAC work at Mall Galleries and was drawn to “the intricate detail of ‘ordinary’ life” and the people in her paintings. “We never really know what’s going on in other people’s lives and I found that intriguing. I think that’s why her work touched me,” Mistu observes.

The work she was initially enamored by was already sold, so she commissioned Melissa to create a new painting. As Mistu lives in Glasgow, she didn’t commission a painting of her own garden, but Melissa’s garden in Islington. “Sadly it’s not our garden; we live in Glasgow. I would certainly love to have ours painted - if Melissa would be willing to visit Glasgow!” Mistu was excited by the prospect of having a work painted especially for her and putting her trust in an artist she admires: “I was more than happy for Melissa to paint what she liked and definitely trusted her judgment.”

Islington Gardens by Melissa Scott-Miller RP RBA NEAC

Roy Wright, a member of The Pastel Society, was commissioned to create a charcoal drawing of a tree in Clare Chalmer’s garden in the Isle of Wight."All our family love this oak tree," Clare explains, "we all swung from it during their childhood and our nieces continue to do so." The artwork now holds "pride of place" in Clare's entrance hall.

“The thing that was most enjoyable about this commission was being able to sit in that beautiful, peaceful garden in the sunshine for many hours, without interruption,” Roy recalls. "The human spirit can be refreshed constantly by exposure to nature,” he muses. Trees are a particular source of artistic enjoyment for Roy, who works predominantly in charcoal, because of “their complexity, the amazing structure of leaves and branches.” Roy concludes, “the more you look the more you see. Each tree is individual - its shape today is the story of its life."

Clare Chalmer's garden by Roy Wright PS

Shortly after she was commissioned, Anne-Marie Butlin visited Mandy Summer’s home. There, she observed the room in which Mandy intended to hang the painting and spent time talking, getting to know her likes and dislikes. “She had a fairly clear idea that she wanted the painting to be really striking and impactful in the room,” Anne-Marie recalls. It also became clear to Anne-Marie that the client loved colour, "particularly orange," she noted.

She then spent considerable time exploring the garden, taking photographs from multiple angles. Once back in her studio, Anne-Marie shortlisted the images and sent some options to the client to choose from. According to the artist, Mandy had a clear vision of what she wanted. They agreed to add a piece of sculptural wall into the composition from another part of the garden so that it would be more recognisably hers. The piece was completed after six weeks.

Mandy Summer's Garden by Anne-Marie Butlin

Interested in Commissioning a Painting of Your Own Garden?

Mall Galleries' Art Consultant Anna Bromwich is on hand to offer expert advice to help you find the perfect artist for you and your garden. For enquiries, contact commissions@mallgalleries.com


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Melissa Scott-Miller RP RBA NEAC

A Barn Owl in Watercolour

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We were recently approached by a client who had seen and fallen in love with a work by Simon Turvey SWLA which had sold before she could purchase it. Commissioning an artwork allows art lovers to purchase a painting in a similar vein to one that they might have missed out on buying in the gallery. However it adds something to that experience too. It is a chance to have a conversation with the artist, to be involved in the creative process, to reflect on what it is that you love about their work. 

In this case our client, Christine Down, was particularly drawn to Simon's Barn Owl watercolours.  Commissioning Simon to paint a further work in this genre allowed the artist to revist these beautiful birds and brought Christine's interests into the equation.

Christine Down said:

"The Commissions Service at Mall Galleries put me in touch with Simon who accepted my commission for a barn owl.  The watercolour he produced is an amazingly realistic study of a barn owl sitting on a branch and is beautifully painted.  Commissioning a picture from the artist makes it very special."

Simon Turvey painting Barn Owl

Commission a Maritime Painting

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With a wealth of experience commissioning maritime paintings, Mall Galleries Art Consultants match you with some of the best marine artists in the country to help you realise your project.

Maritime painting is a genre that depicts ships, or an element of seafaring, and the sea.  The genre was particularly popular from the 17th -19th centuries, reflecting the increased impact of global maritime trade, exploration and warfare. Today, many maritime painters explore these themes through portrayals of historic maritime moments, from trade clippers crossing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail to World War II warships in battle.  

For those commissioning maritime paintings, the subject matter often reflects a personal interest or connection. Some clients come to Mall Galleries’ art consultants with stories of family members who served on a particular warship they are commissioning a painting of, others might work in shipping and want to explore the history of the industry. Many are simply as fascinated by the history of man’s relationship with the sea as our maritime painters are.

Once they know what is driving a client’s project, our consultants can put together a portfolio of stylistically diverse artists, all with experience in the relevant subject matter. They can advise on who will be a good match for each commission and, once you have chosen, they will stay on hand as mediators throughout the process.

Your chosen artist will want to begin by building up research into their vessel: its movements, battles it was involved in, coastlines it departed from, the weather it endured on any given trip. Geoff Hunt PPRSMA for example will start his research in the National Archives at Kew where many original ships’ log books are kept. Using this research they will then create a compositional sketch for you to approve before moving on to the final painting.

Have a look at the below examples for inspiration and then get in contact with our art consultants to get the process started.

Sea Witch by Geoff Hunt PPRSMA

Geoff Hunt PPRSMA was commissioned by the American Club in Hong Kong to paint Sea Witch, a 19th-century clipper that had made the fastest voyage from Chine to the USA under sail.  The composition was discussed at length with the client before Geoff was given the go-ahead to start on the final painting. Geoff used contemporaneous photographs of the coastline, plans and drawings of Sea Witch, and even a tiny model of the paddle boat that appears in the background, which he made himself.


HMS Blencathra by Paul Wright RSMA 

HMS Blencathra (L24) was a Royal Navy Hunt Class Destroyer that on which the commissioner’s father had served as a radio operator during the Second World War.  There was little documentation of this vessel and so Paul built up this portrait from plans and written accounts of HMS Blencathra and the Hunt-Class Destroyers, as well as memories of the client’s conversations with his father, letters, and a few grainy wartime photos of the Blencathra in her heyday.

Find out more about Maritime Art Commissions

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Paul Wright RSMA, HMS Blencathra

Commission a Painting of your Loved Ones by the Sea


Drawing on the expertise of the Royal Society of Marine Artists, Mall Galleries Art Consultancy commissions portraits of families by the sea. In this article, we take you through the process of commissioning this rich memento of time spent with loved ones on holiday. 

Summer is coming to an end, the kids are back to school, life is getting busier again. While the summer holiday might seem an age away now, your memories of it don’t have to fade just yet.

If you head to the coast for your holiday, one beautiful way of imagining yourself beside the sea again is to commission a painting of the time your family spent there. Just like holiday snaps, they remind you of the good times, except in rich, painterly colour- something just a little bit special.  

Mall Galleries draws on the wealth of experience and breadth of styles employed by the Royal Society of Marine Artists to commission portraits of your family by the sea. Our artists specialise in painting coastal subjects and many of them are based by saltwater. Indeed, we have an extensive network of artists living in Cornwall and other popular holiday destinations, making them accessible for family holiday commissions, and knowledgeable about the UK coastline.

The place to start with a commission of this kind is with Mall Galleries’ art consultants. They know their artists inside out: which part of the country they're based in, how they respond to commissions, and how their style might suit your brief. They will provide you with a portfolio of artists to choose from based on your comments, and oversee the contracts that ensure each party knows what to expect.

Your chosen artist will work one of two ways; they will either be happy to work from your photographs, or they'll prefer to take their own in addition to sketching from life. Let us know in advance if you're happy to meet an artist at site or prefer to provide photographs. Even if the artist uses photographic references for the figures, they still may want to visit the landscape itself to make studies of its character. As a general rule of thumb, the more ‘real life’ references the artist can gather the better.  

Have a look at the below examples to see how commissioning a portrait of your holiday in a coastal setting can work


Talk to our art consultants about commissioning your own coastal scene


Bantham Beach by Duncan Palmar

Duncan Palmar’s majestic landscape take centre stage, with the commissioner’s family ‘discoverable’ within the painting. To the left middle-ground you can make out the client’s red windsurf sail and his children play in the foreground. The painting was produced with real attention to the landscape as Duncan knew Bantham Beach well and had a significant amount of reference material of the area. The figures themselves were worked in from photographs of the children provided by the client. They are dwarfed by the landscape, and it is only on closer inspection that any viewer familiar to the family will recognise them, lending a touch of surprise.


By the Sea by Raymond Leech RSMA

This painting was created exclusively from photographs as a Christmas present to the mother of the three children in the photograph. The photographs the client provided were of good enough quality to work from, and Raymond was even able to brighten up the weather, adding a touch of sun to what was an overcast day.  If only we could do this in real life!


Daymer Bay by Nicholas St John Rosse RSMA

Nicholas’ commissions are usually based in the West Country, and Cornwall in particular, where the artist lives and works. His paintings begin onsite, with the artists and sitters meeting on a favourite beach so that both parties can collaboratively work on the composition and Nicholas can take high-resolution photographs to work with in the studio. This large family group with Mum at the centre is no different, and it is this collaboration with the sitters that makes the painting feel so natural.


Talk to our art consultants about commissioning your own coastal scene


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Private Commission by Nicholas St John Rosse RSMA

'HMS Blencathra' by Paul Wright RSMA


Paul Wright RSMA was recently commissioned by Mall Galleries visitor, David Murwill, to paint HMS Blencathra. Mall Galleries caught up with both of them to discuss the amazing history of a ship that served an important role in World War Two, the process of commissioning maritime and naval works, and the challenges of painting a vessel which no longer exists.

HMS Blencathra (L24) was a Royal Navy Hunt Class Destroyer. She was ordered under the 1939 Emergency Built Programme, with the brief that British warships required new anti-air and anti-submarine weapons. The Hunt Class destroyers were a class of World War Two escort vessel, built for convoys in British waters and the Mediterranean. Named after a fox hunt in Cumberland, presumably due to the fleet-footedness of foxes, and the fast pace of fox hunting, these ‘Hunt Class’ destroyers were speedy, easily maneuverable long-endurance warships, which escorted and defended larger vessels as they voyaged across the waves. Regrettably, the ship was scrapped in 1957 after being sold to the British Iron and Steel Cooperation, yet her rich history persists.

David Murwill’s father served as a Radio Operator on HMS Blencathra between 1942-6. After seeing the picture, Penguin in High Seas, a desire was kindled in David to commission a similar painting of the Blencathra. The final catalyst which prompted the commission was the passing of a friend of David’s father, who had been one of the few surviving crew members from HMS Blencathra.

Unsure where to start with the commissions process, David found the naval and maritime artworks of Paul Wright on Mall Galleries’ website; “I felt his work was close to what I wanted to achieve”, David says. Mall Galleries Art Consultant, Anna Bromwich, promptly put David in touch with Paul to exchange ideas and sources. As the ship had been scrapped, Paul had little to work with other than David’s memories of conversations with his father, letters, and a few grainy wartime photos of the Blencathra in her heyday. The artist conducted his own research, looking at plans and written accounts of HMS Blencathra and the Hunt-Class Destroyers. “Paul provided two pencil sketches of what he proposed”, David says; “I liked them so much that I commissioned both! One is acrylic with the Blencathra in heavy seas with a stormy sky, and the other is a larger oil painting, depicting her in convoy.”

HMS Blecanthra by Paul Wright RSMA

The process took fifteen months in total, and David is very pleased with the outcome: “Paul did not disappoint - the final result is excellent!” Paul also found the experience fascinating and enjoyable, saying “I knew little about this class of warship prior to this project - now I know a lot more!’

Through this commission, the amazing wartime history of HMS Blencathra has been successfully preserved in paint for David, and for future generations to discover.

Find out more about Mall Galleries' Marine Commissions

‘The Great Britain Clipper’ by Jenny Morgan RSMA


In October 2017, a couple on a day-trip to London were walking up the Mall and happened across the Royal Society of Marine Artists’ Annual Exhibition at Mall Galleries. "We were entranced", say the couple. "It was a lovely exhibition; the quality was very high and the subjects delightful." Little did they know that this chance visit would lead to the creation of a stunning marine commission by member artist, Jenny Morgan RSMA, entitled The Great Britain Clipper

The Clipper Round The World Yacht Race was set up by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, who became the first person to solo circumnavigate the world by sea without stopping, between 1968 and 1969. The race itself comprises of eight legs, split into around sixteen individual races, and covering an astounding distance of 40,000 nautical miles, including eight ocean crossings. A fleet of twelve boats compete against each other to endure the elements. Each team sails a 70-foot racing yacht designed by naval architect Tony Castro in 2014.

Shortly after their inspiring visit to the RSMA exhibition, the couple’s son joined the crew aboard one of these twelve yachts, The Great Britain Clipper, to compete in the eleventh edition of the race. Boarding in Cape Town, he first sailed to Perth across the Southern Ocean, then on to Sydney where he took part in the famous Sydney to Hobart race, disembarking at the Whitsunday Islands some three months after he boarded.

Proud of their son, the clients wished in some unique and special way to commemorate his adventure. Remembering that Mall Galleries offers a commissions service, they decided to commission a painting of the yacht on which their son had spent such a thrilling three months. To get the ball rolling, they contacted the gallery's Art Consultant Anna Bromwich, who supplied them with information and artistic options.

"From then onwards it was an easy route", say the couple. "Anna sent us profiles and examples of the work of artists she thought suitable and worked within our budget. Between us, we decided that Jenny Morgan was ideal, and Anna contacted the artist on our behalf. We discussed sizes and content with Jenny, the Clipper Venture Company helped with images, and very quickly the finished picture was delivered, to the delight of all who saw it."

It's no surprise that the clients chose Jenny Morgan to create the piece. She is known for her expertise and commitment to the accurate portrayal of ships, as well as the rendering of ‘the untamed element of the sea and its inspiring changing moods’. These two motifs are married together in The Great Britain Clipper, where we see a true likeness of the racing yacht in action, built for speed and adaptability, and facing the challenges the ocean throws at her. Coincidentally, members of Jenny’s family had participated in a similar ocean race, so she was familiar with the adrenaline of racing through their accounts, which she infused into the work itself through the movement of the crashing waves against the hardy vessel.

The clients presented the painting as a surprise gift to their son in the springtime of 2018. "It was very well received! It's not often that he is lost for words, and the concept proved to be a great success. The picture hangs in a prominent position in his home."

As Sir Knox-Johnston said, "you will never conquer or master the ocean, but you can endure it. Mother Nature is an unforgiving mistress, always with one last trick up her sleeve for you when you least expect it." This quote comes to life in The Great Britain Clipper, which serves as the perfect reminder of a great adventure on the waves.

The Great Britain Clipper by Jenny Morgan RSMA

Find out more about Mall Galleries' Marine Commissions

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 therp.co.uk.

Commission Case Study: Old Harry Rocks


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

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

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Chastleton House by Toby Ward NEAC