Discover more about the exhibitions held at Mall Galleries through interviews with artists, photo essays, prize winners lists and video and audio content. Mall Galleries publish content from all Federation of British Artists Art Society Exhibitions.
The Conservation through Art Award, sponsored by The BIRDscapes Gallery, acknowledges an artist’s efforts in using their art to help conserve the natural world. It also directly benefits wildlife by the prize money being shared equally between the artist and a nature conservation body of the artist’s choosing. This year’s Award goes to an exceptionally deserving candidate.
Her powerful body of work is both visually exciting and dynamic, leading the viewer to look more closely at what is portrayed. Her thought-provoking commentary on the plight of a threatened British species and its environment, is a huge conservation message contained within the appealing images of a skilled printmaker.
For her series 'The Decline of Eels', The BIRDscapes Gallery’s Conservation through Art Award goes to Julia Manning. In acknowledgement of the validity of this award, Steve and Liz Harris have decided to increase the prize fund for this year to £1,000.
Lucy will be interviewed for a feature in The Artist magazine.
Inspired by my love of rock pooling and searching for crabs. This piece was created by printing with drawing ink and painting with loose washes of watercolour to represent the delicate tones and textures of the crab's shell.
For an outstanding work, in any medium, by a non-member. Presented by the RSMA in memory of Charles Pears, founding member and first President.
I wanted to paint this lonely little folly on the Northumbrian coast, as it sat in the light on the rocks. It is small but seemed to own the view. I love the drama of the north coast too, so the atmosphere was lovely to paint.
The winner will take home a handsome, hand-crafted sculpture by Astins Sailing Sculptures, given for the most atmospheric depiction of a classic boat.
An artist's depiction of the grand old days of yachting for racing and pleasure. A southerly breeze has suddenly freshened and these yachts are racing into the quieter waters of the East Solent under the Lee of the Eastern Isle of Wight, while other yachts are making the most of the wind.
For a work on the theme 'The Sea in all its Moods'. Made possible by the generosity of long-standing member Kenneth Denton.
With the wind rising in a hard gale, the Fore- and Main- Topmen of the Bellerophon are at work sending down topgallant yards as the vessel plunges through a heavy sea.
Their ship, known throughout the Royal Navy as the "Billy Ruffian", was a veteran of some of the fiercest sea battles in the long wars against France - from "The Glorious First of June" in 1793, the Battle of the Nile, 1798, to Trafalgar in 1805.
And to crown her illustrious career, in the summer of 1815 the defeated Emperor Napoleon surrendered to Capt. Maitland on board the Bellerophon while she lay at anchor off Basque Roads.
For works depicting marine engineering or construction activities in harbours, estuaries or marine waters within the UK.
I discovered the Fisher Fleet at Kings Lynn by accident some years ago. I was in North Norfolk running a watercolour workshop and researching subject matter for my next painting DVD with Townhouse Films.
I took a wrong turn when leaving Kings Lynn and stumbled on the Fisher Fleet completely by accident. I was so excited by what I found that I spent most of the day sketching and taking over 400 photographs.
I have visited on two other occasions and have done a further six paintings inspired by that first visit.
The discovery of Fisher Fleet will be remembered as one of those very special days that artists occasionally get. The quality of wonderful subject matter, all in one location, together with the lighting and weather conditions was perfect.
For an outstanding work related to the maritime industry, selected by the Society’s President and the Chairman of the Baltic Exchange. Including works related to trade (ports, cargo vessels, etc), shipbuilding, safety at sea / the crew, the RNLI or NCI.
The Baltic is a historic membership organisation at the heart of the international shipping industry, providing services relied upon by shipping markets worldwide. Value £2,000.
I have been awarded the Baltic Exchange Award for the painting ‘Britannia, Pool of London’ at this year’s RSMA Annual Exhibition at Mall Galleries.
Due to the Covid lockdown, the picture was worked from reference sketches. By chance, I saw the Royal Yacht Britannia while walking across Blackfriars Bridge. She was bathed in warm evening sunlight.
A huge Tug was manoeuvring her to dock, maybe for the last time in London before she sailed to the port of Leith in Scotland and became a popular tourist attraction.
In my painting, I included Tower Bridge in the background to indicate to the viewer where she was moored on the Thames, City of London.
My method of painting is to simply remove and leave out unnecessary detail, similar to the Impressionist movement.
This picture turned out very well for me and I am pleased it will be on display alongside many more excellent marine paintings.
The estuarine coast between Whitstable and Seasalter is a favourite place to paint. It’s a walk I do each day, and the light and weather approaching over mudflats is changeable and always engaging, even on the murkiest of afternoons.
I’m delighted to have won the Michael Harding prize, and it’s particularly fitting that this painting was painted with a considerable amount of Michael Harding’s titanium and warm white oils!
The location is an iron age hillfort close to where I live in West Dorset. I've walked and painted up here for more than forty years. The high hill gives long views out to the coast running down into Devon. The light here in the moments around dusk is a theme I return to often.
The grazing cattle, which a few minutes before are visually very prominent in the landscape begin to merge with the hillside. I can hear their breath and their chomping at the grass as I shove the paint about trying to make sense of what I'm seeing.
An empty chair in a piece of figurative artwork is often representative of the person who would sit in it, so they are, in a sense, a form of portraiture. In addition, a chair is a highly personal object. We form a strong sense of ownership to our items of furniture, and the chair implies rituals. For example, in the family home, each family member may be attached to their chair or sit in a specific spot at a particular time of day.
From the depictions of chairs, we can begin to ascertain a sense of the personality of their owners. This is because the chair acts as a stand-in for a person, characterising what would otherwise be an empty space but reminding us of the potential presence of a human.
Cherryl Fountain’s At Home With Waggis depicts an empty chair, although the scene is far from absent from life, especially as Waggis the dog sits in the foreground. Fountain explains, ‘Waggis, the last dog my Gamekeeper father trained at the age of 89, is posing obediently for his portrait. The cushion, taxidermy pheasant and game still life on the wall reflect Waggis's (formerly known as Haggis) working career as a gundog. The watercolour depicts him at 16, enjoying his retirement.’ The cushion on the chair tells the viewer about Waggis’s life, and there is so much character and personality in the piece as a whole, reflected in the array of patterned fabrics, colourful ornaments and belongings. Although the work is devoid of human presence, it is far from being devoid of personality.
A lone chair may, however, be representative of loneliness or solitude. It could suggest the owner of the chair lives a life without much companionship. But equally, the singular chair may not necessarily represent unwanted loneliness. Instead, the lonely chair could act as a calming respite after a chaotic day. The chair provides refuge and comfort and shows a commitment to spending time with ourselves. Nia Mackeown’s The Sun Room Chair is incredibly inviting. She writes about her piece: ‘This alla prima painting finds inspiration from the dappled light seen on the Persian rug and antique chair. I enjoyed the play of warm and cool tones within the sunroom and hoped to capture the inviting feeling of the empty armchair.’ How the light skims the edge of the seat calls to the viewer, and we feel compelled to occupy it.
But a very different atmosphere is portrayed in Jason Line’s piece Interior with Lloyd Loom Chair. Although the chair is similarly pictured next to a window, the trace of presence is still visible. With the paper in the window and crease in the cushion, the overall light is much more gloomy. The grey undertones create a less inviting sense of loneliness and solitude, and our attention is drawn to the presence of absence. Rather than immediately wanting to occupy the lack, the absence is felt, creating a paradoxical portrait of absence. An empty chair can be used to symbolise grief. For example, in the musical Les Miserables, the song ‘Empty Chairs at Empty Tables’ reflects the lack of life or the life that once was, that no longer occupies the chairs.
However, even in empty chairs, a greater sense of interaction can be felt in depicting multiple chairs at once. For example, in Susan Ryder’s Garden Chairs, her chairs are positioned next to one another to suggest companionship. The chairs, surrounded by the beautiful greenery and flowers, entice the viewer. You can imagine enjoying another’s company as you sit amongst the garden, either engaging in conversation or mutually absorbing your surroundings.
But this sense of companionship is not necessarily felt within depictions of multiple chairs. In Adam Stone’s painting Lobby, the sense of absence becomes the centre of attention for the viewer. From the collection of chairs, we may expect to feel a sense of companionship again or be able to imagine the array of conversations that have occurred in this space. Still, through the monochromatic palette, the heavy shadows and lack of signs of human life that could be hinted at through additional objects, the piece feels representative of evidence of long-absent occupants.
Through the context provided in Stone’s description, we learn it is, in fact, an abandoned space; ‘The painting Lobby is of a room in the abandoned Merrion Hotel, Merrion Centre, Leeds. The room had been left untouched for several years after the operators went into liquidation. This work seeks to convey the absent presence experienced in the space. It forms part of a five-year investigation exploring sites of the uncanny within the Merrion Shopping Centre.’
While some of the New English Art Club’s pieces show multi-purpose chairs, others have particular functions. For example, in Rosie Clark’s piece Studio, she depicts the essential chairs to the working day. Drawn in a very technical style with architectural lines and visual guides that accurately portray perspective, the sense of seriousness and purpose is reflected.
Lastly, we can think more creatively about chairs, such as in Mary Jackson’s painting Under The Trees, through which she creates an incredibly enticing setting, depicting hammocks hanging from the trees. The golden hues in the light create a warm and welcoming scene, and the viewer can use this painting as a form of escapism. We transport ourselves to a sunny riverside as we imagine ourselves precariously settling into a hanging hammock. So next time you see a depiction of an empty chair, perhaps sit with it for a while.
Firstly, in Studio Scene by Kayoon Anderson, she has created a self-portrait in which she is engrossed in a book. Kayoon writes:
"This is a self-portrait in my previous studio - a painting in which to remember the space. The earthy palette reflects how grounded I felt in this small space during the winter months I spent there. The room has an interesting history, having been used by the Adams crime family of Islington. The tape on the window shows where a bullet hole has been covered up."
The earthy tones and the way she describes feeling grounded suggest how comfortable and at ease she felt in the space, a perfect spot to relax into a book!
Next, we look at Bookish and Splayed by Norman Long. Long explains, ‘Working on this painting over an extended period allowed me to develop a wide range of surfaces through thick applications and glazes. For me, the invented image of the spade in a bucket is symbolic of the man's thoughts, wandering from his book. Or perhaps the hidden lady's thoughts?’
The thick glazes and the textured surface reflects a dreamy, hazy atmosphere that can be felt on the beach during a sunny day, where you escape into the fantasy realm of a book.
Eve Pettitt’s painting Lockdown Reading has an interesting composition. The subject is pictured on a chair directly placed in front of the wall, where the building curves create an unusual alcove. The shape is almost tunnelling and could be reflective of the trapped feeling many of us experienced during the lockdown, where at times, there was little else to do except sit and read a book. Still, the subject’s small smile suggests the enjoyment many felt when we realised we were granted the free time to spend with a book.
Next is Jeannie Kinsler’s painting Laura Reading, which is part of her Tuscan series. Kinsler explains ‘This is one of a series of paintings made from a memorable summer family holiday in Tuscany. The late afternoon and evening light was wonderful. I did many sketches and took photographs, working from one of them through last year for this piece which depicts my daughter Laura at the end of a day lying on the floor reading, light flooding through the open door.’
The shadowy patterns and angles of refractive light coming from the open door create quite a fantastical image. The light focuses explicitly on Laura’s eye, showing her single-minded focus on the book, and these magical elements of light could reflect the escapist realm the book has sent Laura to.
Lastly, Victoria Line, Warren Street, one of Paul Handley’s paintings from the London Underground, shows a collection of people on the tube, finding different ways to occupy their time during their journey. A familiar scene to many of us, whilst some individuals are using their phones; others are looking at newspapers or reading books.
The New English Art Club Annual Exhibition runs from 25 June to 3 July 2021
During the first lockdown in 2020, I started drawing new leaves of Jasmine, inspired by the view from my garden studio. I always try a lot of small sketches first and then place them in a grid structure, which became, in this case, “Green Stylus”.
I'm just going to say a brief word on the portrait that has won the prize...
It's a self-portrait. Self-portraits are always fascinating territory for me, because I think in omitting so many of the influences that typically make up a portrait - the other people, the conversations you have with them, their faces, their ideas, mixed with your ideas lifted onto the canvas - instead of that, you have yourself. You're on your own, you are the sitter and painter. It's a very introspective and sort of circular atmosphere that comes through, and it's quite different for me.
Personally, I always feel that the atmosphere of self-portraits is sort of a spookier, more introspective thing. And I certainly felt that with this one, the largest one I've done. Technically, that was at times complicated. I painted it on the wall, and I have south light here, so it was actually a question of seizing one's moment because south light is a great deal more variable than north. I grabbed my moments over about a three week period. The posing was a bit difficult, trying to concentrate on the painting, but also managing to fall into the right pose. However I hugely enjoyed it. It is always fascinating, as always a voyage, a bit of a different journey.
I can't believe that the painting has received recognition, let alone in such company, so I'm absolutely over the moon. Thank you very much.
Pears might be less populist than apples, but they have been immortalised in paint for thousands of years. They are considered symbols of longevity, abundance, good health, and happiness. As well as reminiscent of the female form and women’s fertility.
Can we read these symbols into the paintings of pears in the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours 209th Exhibition?
Lillias August RI Two Fat Pears Watercolour, 19 x 33 cm (38 x 50 cm framed) £800
Lillias describes this as “Two ripe pears leaning on each other” – they certainly look like old friends to me. ‘Two Fat Ladies’ enjoying each other’s company and support.
"Most of my still life paintings are set up in my studio with light from a window on my right. Although the subject matter is what inspires me, the backgrounds and shadows are some of the most important parts of the painting as they enhance and compliment the subject matter itself. On the technical side, I nearly always start with the background and shadows, move on to the subject and then dance between the two, building up their relationship until I think it works and they are 'speaking to each other'." - Lillias August RI
Helen Davison Pears Watercolour & gouache, 38 x 28 cm (40 x 50 cm framed) £1,200
Helen Davison’s Pears offers us four views of pears, some in pairs, some alone. They seem to work as a sort of storyboard – the new pear brought home from the Grocers, nestled in a paper bag, introduced to the others in the fruit bowl until she is eaten! But even then she seems to know how to show off her figure, using the brown paper bag like a feather boa.
Wayne Ford Autumn Glory Watercolour, 25 x 38 cm (47 x 60 cm framed) £1,400
Wayne Ford’s Autumn Glory certainly speaks of abundance and fruitfulness. The bowl you took to gather pears from the tree wasn’t big enough, you wrapped some more in a cloth, but still you couldn’t carry all the tree had to offer. You put these down just inside the door as you grabbed a large basket to head back out.
Shirley Trevena RI Fruit & Flowers on a Cream Cloth Watercolour & graphite pencil, 41 x 41 cm (59 x 58 cm framed) £1,200
The Royal Society of British Artists and Mall Galleries would like to congratulate all prizewinners and give a special thank you to all our prize-givers.
Though the gallery is now re-open, this year's prize-giving is exclusively online. But with videos, audio, images, and statements by the winners to watch, hear, see, and read, you can experience and enjoy the prize-winning works wherever you are.