Antarctic Adventure

At the end of October the annual exhibition of the Society of Wildlife Artists, The Natural Eye, will be returning to Mall Galleries. We spoke to Bruce Pearson SWLA about his upcoming trip to the Falkland Islands this November.

Society of Wildlife Artists member Bruce Pearson has, for the third year running, been invited by One Ocean Expeditions to visit the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula to be their Artist in Residence.

Taking place in November later this year, this unique opportunity will allow Bruce to sketch and paint the Antarctic wildlife in their natural habitat, as well as the dynamic icy landscape. He will also be offering fellow passengers the chance to join him and spend a few peaceful hours working on their own sketches of the surroundings.

Onboard artists admiring their surroundings

The area is incredibly biodiverse, with wildlife such as penguins, whales, albatrosses and seals, many of which are critically endangered species. One Ocean Expeditions are a company committed to the conservation and sustainability of such wildlife in the places they visit by taking measures to reduce waste and emissions.

Page from Bruce’s sketchbook from his earlier trip

Bruce himself is familiar with drawing endangered species en plein air. Last year he travelled to Bermuda following up his Troubled Waters bird conservation project to look at the rare Bermuda Petrel.

Bruce hopes to develop his own work while in the Antarctic

Despite holding the record for being the coldest place on earth, Antarctica and its subzero weather conditions are not a worry to Bruce, as they should not pose any artistic challenges to the onboard artists. Bruce says paints tend not to freeze on the palette, as one might expect, due to the salt in the marine air and warmer summer temperatures.

Interviewed by Jess Baxter

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.

Industrial Docks Commission

Interviewed by Jess Baxter

With the Royal Society of Marine Artists  Annual Exhibition returning to Mall Galleries in October, we spoke to Ronny Moortgat RSMA about his commission pieces for Verbeke Bunkering.

Verbeke Bunkering, a marine company situated in Antwerp, Belgium, wanted to decorate their head office with a series of artworks. They wished to commission a piece by someone with specialist experience in painting maritime structures. 

The company chose Ronny Moortgat RSMA for this project, a seascape painter who had worked on a previous commission for Verbeke. They gave him a very general brief, requesting a depiction of the company’s marine structures on the river, which includes various piping, tankards and scaffolding.

Ronny enjoys the freedom of notably open briefs such as this one, as it allows him to play with his own ideas of tone and media. Upon visiting the company’s site, Ronny made a few preliminary sketches and took photographs for lighting reference, which were brought back to his warehouse studio where he began work on three paintings.

As sailboats and ships on water are usually the focus of his artwork, this static industrial subject matter took Ronny’s paintings in a relatively different direction. Yet this didn’t detract from his enjoyment in the task; he says that putting his creative spirit into something new and different is what makes being a commissioned artist so interesting.

If they wished, the group were able to personalise small details in the paintings as Ronny’s work took shape. And, three months after the project began, the three paintings were completed. The clients were incredibly happy with the result and, being able to experiment with a different maritime subject, Ronny was also pleased. 

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.

Fishscape Memorial

At the end of October the annual exhibition of the Society of Wildlife Artists, The Natural Eye, will be returning to Mall Galleries. We spoke to Harriet Mead PSWLA, President of the Society, about her commission pieces for a dairy farm in East Sussex.

The owners of a organic dairy farm in East Sussex decided to commemorate their employee, Dave, who had suddenly died of cancer, by commissioning a memorial artwork.

The group chose Harriet Mead PSWLA, an artist who specialises in creating sculptures of wildlife from steel and found objects, and gave her an open brief to craft a memorial piece to remember Dave by. Visiting the dairy farm allowed Harriet to gain further insight into the employees’ vision. They requested a sculpture based on the hobby that Dave loved – fishing – and, after receiving a budget to work with, Harriet soon built upon this idea that would result in her latest commission piece, Fishscape.

Harriet Mead PSWLA, Fishscape - The distinctive S shape where the ribbons of metal are attached to forms the base of the sculpture

Harriet doesn’t draw her ideas first; she prefers to jump right in and find her materials that she recycles from old tools. As well as metals sourced elsewhere, the artist incorporated the old tools that she had found on the farm to reflect the landscape the sculpture would reside in. A miniature of an Archimedes’ Screw, a piece of farming equipment used regularly in fodder feeding systems, is visible twirling through the body of the pike.

Sculptures of the 5 species of fish that were in the final sculpture

By this visual combination of agricultural labour and art, Harriet gave the farm a sentimental memorial to commemorate the life of a well-loved employee in the place he worked. It also generated a buzz on social media, leading to fishermen from both the UK and America inquiring where they could buy such a piece, which is only available through commission.

Harriet Mead PSWLA, Fishscape (Detail) Visible Archimedes’ Screw through the body of the pike

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.

By Jess Baxter

All photos by Jody Lawrence.

Image credit

Harriet Mead PSWLA, Fishscape

A Barn Owl in Watercolour

Barn Owl by Simon Turvey Image for Commission Wildlife Art blog post

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

Naval Commissions


Royal Society of Marine Artists member Rowena Wright was commissioned to paint HMS Trumpterer for Cdr Tim Henry RN, currently the commanding Officer of HMS Ocean. 

HMS Trumpeter is an Archer-class P2000-type patrol and training vessel of the British Royal NavyTrumpeter is assigned to Cambridge University Royal Naval Unit, having previously acted as the training ship for the Bristol University Royal Naval Unit.

She served in the Gibraltar Squadron alongside Ranger commencing 1991 under commanding officer Lieutenant Richard Morris. With Ranger she was deployed on the Thames for the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant to assist in security and partake in the pageant. She also assisted in security for the 2012 London Olympics.

This is the third ship to carry the name HMS Trumpeter. It was built by Watercraft, launched 1986, completed by Vosper-Thorneycroft Sep-1988, and commissioned 1988. It was deployed to Gibralter Squadron until August 2003, then assigned to Bristol University, University Royal Navy Unit but still took part in the Trafalgar 200 Fleet Review.

Text by Carmel Shayle

Image credit

Rowena Wright RSMA, HMS Trumpeter, Oil on canvas, 80x50cm

Top Ten Portrait Painters 2015

Robbie Wraith RP, Burlesque, Oil, 117 x 168 cm, POA

The Top Portrait painters this year are Phoebe Dickinson, Robbie Wraith and Keith Breeden.

The current Top Ten portrait painters are Phoebe Dickinson, Robbie Wraith, Keith Breeden, Brendan Kelly, Frances Bell, Paul Brason, Anthony Connolly, David Cobley, Valeriy Gridnev and Toby Wiggins.

Keith Breeden RP, Professor Lord Krebs of Wytham, Principal of Jesus College, Oxford, Oil, 100 x 90 cm, NFS

These are the artists who received the most enquiries at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters’ Annual Exhibition at Mall Galleries. This is a showcase for contemporary portraiture with over 200 works on show comprising work by 42 eminent members and the 87 non-member artists who entered the best works through the open submission.

Phoebe Dickinson, Carson on Set at Highclere Castle, Oil, 35 x 18 cm, NFS

Interestingly Phoebe Dickinson, - whose tiny portrait of Carson, the character from the television series ‘Downton Abbey’, - attracted much attention, is the only non-member artist on this list but she is the one who received the most enquiries. Phoebe started training in Florence at Charles H Cecil Studios, Lavender Hill Studios practicing printmaking at the Prince’s Drawing School and Heatherly's School of Fine Art.

Valeriy Gridnev and Keith Breeden often vie for first and second place but this year two of Valeriy Gridnev’s major works were held up by the paperwork required by customs on their way over from Russia and did not reach the gallery in time for the show.

Valeriy Gridnev RP, Guitarist, Oil, 66 x 105 cm, NFS

Many of the people enquiring are considering commissioning a portrait so hopefully the artists will enjoy patronage over the coming months and years as well as accolade.

For anybody who missed the show and would like to commission a portrait all is not lost; I am available throughout the year by appointment!

Annabel Elton

Head of Commissions

More works from the Top Ten Portrait Painters

All works were exhibited at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition 2015

Paul Brason RP, Sir Alan Battersby, Oil, 97 x 107 cm, NFS

David Cobley RP NEAC, Neil Osborn, Oil, 97 x 127 cm, NFS

Anthony Connolly, Annunziata, Oil, 50 x 40 cm, NFS

Brendan Kelly RP, Fabio, Acrylic, 100 x 112 cm, £8,500

Toby Wiggins RP, Guy Bamford at Dunshay Studio, Oil, 135 x 85 cm, NFS

Francis Bell Assoc RP, Self Portrait (Part 1, 2, and 3), Oil, 53 x 58 cm

Image credit

Robbie Wraith RP, Burlesque (detail), Oil, 117 x 168 cm, POA

Marine Commissions | Geoff Hunt PPRSMA

Geoff Hunt Marine Commissions Mall Galleries
Geoff Hunt PPRSMA on his commission HMS Warspite at the Battle of Calabria, 7 July 1940
At 127 x 162cm, this is one of the largest paintings I have been asked to do. The client was a Chilean gentleman with a particular interest in the Royal Navy, and I had the pleasure of meeting and travelling with him in Chile so that we could talk about Chilean naval history in return. Though a sizeable painting, as a ‘ship portrait’ this was a straightforward work, a portrayal of what is now a fairly obscure naval action in which the famous HMS Warspite scored a hit on her Italian opposite number at the record-breaking range of 24 kilometres. As always, I researched the original information to create this painting from the original ship’s logbook, in the National Archive. The painting itself is now on extended loan to the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth (HMS Britannia) where it is currently on display adjacent to the Senior Gun Room.

Mall Galleries art consultants regularly commission RSMA artists for companies and private individuals with a connection to marine and port life.

The Royal Society of Marine Artists October exhibition celebrates the sea and the marine environment in all its variety - from the deep sea to quiet harbours, from super-tankers to sailing dinghies, from all that is beside the sea to what lies under it. On show will be over 300 works by some of the most celebrated marine artists at work today.

To commission Geoff Hunt please contact

Image credit

Geoff Hunt, HMS Warspite at the Battle of Calabria, 7 July 1940 (detail)

A Room With a View

View of the Islands by Jenny Wheatley an art commissions blog

Throughout art history artists have painted the view from windows, whether their own or others.  The Federation of British Artists is no exception and some of our most popular paintings depict these interior-exterior scenes.

Commissioning a view from one’s window is a highly personal way of engaging with this subject matter. It's a great opportunity to capture for posterity a sentimental scene from your home, office, favourite childhood spot or any other meaningful site.

The commissioning process is tailored to best suit you. Mall Galleries represents a wide variety of artists with a broad range of styles enabling you to select the individual who would best do justice to your vision. The artist you collaborate with will be able to work from your photographs, make working sketches or paint directly on site to create a work that will permanently record your chosen vista.

This has long been a popular subject for artists reaching far back to the Romans, with their convincing Trompe L’oeils, and to the Renaissance. Your panorama might be inspired by the Old Masters or the early modernists, by Antonello da Messina’s masterpiece Saint Jerome in his Study or Monet’s Boulevard des Capucines.

Have a look below to see examples of our artist’s interpretations of such a view.

Contact to arrange a private consultation.

Text by Carmel Shayle

Header image: View from the Islands by Jenny Wheatley

Still Life with Mirrors by Chris Aggs

Bloomsbury Back Garden by Melissa Scott-Miller

Greenwich Street by Alex Fowler

Peeling Apples by Jane Corsellis

White Orchid by Delia Cardnell


Portrait Commissions are thriving

Mall Galleries Portrait Commissions Art Royal Society of Portrait Painters

Portrait commissions are thriving…is it the desire to engage with the creative process, to form something more permanent or deeper, or just to remember something you loves?

Have you ever wondered why are we so drawn to having those we love or esteem portrayed by an artist?

The Royal Society of Portrait Painters placed a record number of commissions last year (a rise of 62% from 2013) despite the onslaught of the photograph, the digital age and the selfie. We are deeply drawn to and fascinated by the human face; physiologically recognition of human face is perhaps the most the most highly developed visual skill in humans but this does not explain why we want to engage an artist to take a likeness.

The portrait commission is a personal and private transactionthe fruition of a relationship and the transformation of the sitter through the imagination of the artist.  Research by Natalie Delgardo shows that thoughts of immortality and legacy is part of it but that this is at a more subconscious level. 

For my part I love to sit, and often wonder why. I like to be part of the creative process whilst held in stillness, to get to know and understand the artist and perhaps to become tainted by their talent. The portraits of our children have become more precious with the passing of time and are the icons I refer to rather than photographs when remembering them at that particular age.  The portraits are beautiful objects and in addition the artist had caught something of their essence whilst holding on to something fleeting. It is a strange alchemy!

Annabel Elton, Head of Commissions

Contact our Commissions team now or visit the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Open Exhibition and discuss commissioning a portrait with our Commissions Team

Image credit

Annabel Elton & Anna Bromwich - Mall Galleries Art Consultancy

A Riverside Home

Lisa Graa Jensen RI has a very distinctive style, so we were all intrigued to see how her painting of Mall Galleries client, Nigel’s home would materialise. He had long-since been a big fan of Lisa’s work and hoped that her fun and warm style perfectly aligned with his choice of subject matter.  Both figurative and inventive, Lisa’s picture is more than just a portrait.

Nigel tells us “The commission was delightfully consistent with my expectations and continues to give my wife and I a great deal of pleasure”, and that they have since acquired a further work by Lisa, bringing their collection of her works up to three.

Lisa also found the experience enriching, reflecting that "Having had a narrow boat for ten years, I know the River Thames reasonably well; and love painting canals and rivers; so I was delighted to be asked to do a painting of Nigel's really interesting house on stilts by the Thames. He wanted all the surrounding flora and fauna and passing river craft to encapsulate the beautiful relaxing place in which he lives."


Henley House Lisa Graa Jensen RI

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Henley House

Image credit

Henley House by Lisa Graa Jensen