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 Natural Eye

400x230Scott-Dafila-Red Hartebeest on a Red Dune.jpg

The 52nd Annual Exhibition of the Society of Wildlife Artists, ‘The Natural Eye’, runs at Mall Galleries from 29 October to 8 November; here, our Exhibitions Manager offers an exclusive preview of what to expect at this year’s show:

There are over 300 works on show at the forthcoming Society of Wildlife Artists (SWLA) Annual Exhibition, all of which have been inspired by the natural world: its places and species, or by projects and politics concerned with it.

Many members have been inspired by the natural world on their doorstep. For example, Fiona Clucas has been inspired to create her mixed media work Moss verge, summer by daily walks with her dog around local Levens Moss, where the rich hedgerows, moss pasture land, birds and insects prove a constant source of inspiration. Also influenced by local wildlife and landscape, Antonia Phillips painted Dawn Deer; Dene Woods following her purchase of Uplyme woodland, which presented the artist with exciting new subjects to draw, marking a departure from the artist’s more familiar scenes of seabirds and shorelines (as seen in Oystercatcher trio).

Antonia Phillips SWLA, Dawn Deer; Dene Woods, Uplyme

In contrast to Phillips’s picture of a deer in deep Dene Woods, fellow member Rachel Lockwood has painted, in Watching the forest edge, the sight of a creature (perhaps another deer?) emerging from the forest, out of the shadows and into the light. Meanwhile in Pool Movement, Lockwood swaps woodlands for water, showing young Herons learning to hunt at a pool while Egrets wander amongst them, animatedly threading in and out.

John Reaney is another artist for whom the local area has provided a rich source of inspiration. In the particular case of Parish lamps lit, Reaney has observed at the River Ouse - below Lewes, near his Sussex home - a group of Swallows descending at dusk on a newly cut hay field to feed before roosting, joined bizarrely enough by a bat (seen swooping in from the top right of the watercolour).

Meanwhile at the other end of the British Isles to Sussex, Tim Wootton has drawn, close to his Orkney home, the coastal cliffs of Yesnaby, complete with Greenland Wheatear - one of the artist’s favourite birds. As well as the watercolour Wheatear, Wootton is exhibiting Glorious, a series of four bird studies in oil paint, as a reaction against the “Glorious Twelfth”, that is the start of the shooting season which commences on the 12th August, during which droves of Red Grouse are unashamedly shot for sport. Thus in Greenland Wheatear and Glorious, Wootton has represented subjects close to his home and heart respectively.

Tim Wootton SWLA, Greenland Wheatear

Other exhibitors, meanwhile, have found inspiration much further afield than their local area. Darren Rees travelled far from his home in Stirling, Scotland, to produce his works at a residency with the Scott Polar Research Institute and Royal Navy in Antarctica; whilst there, Rees studied penguin colonies, such as Gentoos at Port Lockroy and even foxes and whales at Svalbard, between mainland Norway and the North Pole. While in contrast, Dafila Scott - granddaughter of Captain Scott himself - has depicted wildlife in much warmer climes, from Wild Turkeys displaying in California, to Giant Eagle Owl in the Kalahari, and suitably rendered in hot red, orange and pink pastels, Red hartebeest on a red dune.

Demonstrating a decidedly dynamic approach to depicting wildlife (not unlike Dafila), Kim Atkinson’s prints of Starlings, such as Starling drinking, Starling bathing, result from drawings made while watching Starlings and especially from listening to them – the dots and dashes and liquid nature of their song and chatter, translated into prismatic colour and pattern in relief prints. Ben Woodhams, on the other hand, has chosen to draw more silent specimens, so to speak: in particular, a dead Sparrowhawk that had crashed into a neighbour’s window, a dead Merlin which flew into Woodhams’s own window, and a Partridge picked up from the side of the road – each Ben painted in meticulous detail until, according to the artist, it all got “a bit ‘much’”. 

This year, a fair few exhibitors have focused their work on instances where man has supported wildlife and its conservation. For example, Max Angus’s linocut Good to see you is based on the artist’s friend Mr Breeze (the figure in blue beneath the bunting), and the blackbirds opposite his shop which he looks for every spring morning to check if they have survived the night. While as part of the RSPB’s project at Wallasea Island to re-create the ancient wetland landscape ‘to provide a haven for a wonderful array of nationally and internationally important wildlife’, Greg Poole has documented (among other exhibitors) the interplay between the on-site machinery and area’s wildlife, especially well captured in his monotype Short-ear Owl flying near digger, completed in his studio from sketches made in-situ on the Island.

Max Angus SWLA, Good to see you

Above are just some of the works on display in what is the SWLA’s 52nd Annual Exhibition, the country's showcase par excellence for the very best of contemporary art inspired by the natural world.

View more highlights from the exhibition here


Image credit

Dafila Scott SWLA, Red Hartebeest on a Red Dune (detail)

The Royal Society of Marine Artists Exhibition Preview

Mulcahy_Bruce_South Bay Lights Scarbrough.jpg

The Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Marine Artists runs from 14 to 25 October, however here our Exhibitions Manager offers an exclusive preview of what to expect at this year’s show:

There are over 300 works on show at the Royal Society of Marine Artists (RSMA) Annual Exhibition 2015, all depicting maritime subjects, however from a startling range of places and perspectives.

Along the English coast towards Penzance, Peter Cronin has painted the picturesque Polperro, a large studio piece composed from ‘in situ’ reference studies looking across the water beyond boats and buoys onto buildings and bodies on shore. While further North, Bruce Mulcahy has painted - ‘on-the-spot’, over several visits - South Bay Lights, Scarborough, an atmospheric nocturne of night-time lights on Scarborough Harbour. Of course Peter and Bruce are far from the only exhibitors to find inspiration outside the studio, en plein air. J.F. Morgan has depicted the seas from her actual experience as yachtswoman, cruising and working at sea, whereas Wendy Borello has painted her underwater “landscapes” in watercolour from her personal experiences whilst scuba diving. While back on dry land, the shapes, colours and patterns of ropes and nets found amongst fishing paraphernalia are the inspiration behind Gareth Brown’s still life, appropriately titled Ropes and Nets.

Bruce Mulcahy RSMA South Bay Lights, Scarborough

From still life to sporting events, Barry Peckham recorded his view Valsheda, off The Needles at six o’clock in the morning off Mudeford Quay whilst observing yachts pass The Needles at the Isle of Wight’s Round the Island Race 2013. Another race, another place, David Allen shows the activity at a combined race day between West Mersea Yacht Club and Dabchicks Yacht Club in his pastel painting Cadets, Toppers and Optimists Waiting to Launch, West Mersea. While Raymond Leech’s End of the Toppers Race, Lowestoft depicts the June 2015 event in Lowestoft, at which 159 of the country’s best young sailors competed in a key qualifying event to secure a place in The Royal Yachting Association’s Junior National Squad.

Barry Peckham RSMA ROI Valsheda, off The Needles

Exhibiting artists have depicted less competitive, calmer scenes too, especially so Nicholas St John Rosse’s serene pictures of the seaside, including a faithful dog afraid of water (The Relucant Bather!), a girl at play on the beach with Pink Bucket, Blue Bucket, and in Exploring, even the artist’s own great grandson at Trebarwith.

Many RSMA artists confess to finding Britain their favourite place to paint, with new member Gillian Roberts listing among her personal highlights, Aldeburgh, Southwold, Walberswick, and the Yorkshire coast, as seen in her oil painting Yorkshire Rose and Ocean Crusader at Bridlington. However beyond Britain is well represented in the exhibition as well, from Breakfast on the Riviera with Douglas Gray, to evening in Menorca through the eyes of David Curtis (Evening, Binibèquer Coastline – Menorca), across Italy with David Allen via The Grand Canal at Accademia, and as far as Iceland courtesy of Lorraine Abraham’s Repair and Renovation, Reykjavik Harbour – which depicts boats Lorraine has observed with fascination over frequent visits to Iceland from their dilapidated state upon first sight to them becoming seaworthy following repair and renovation.

Douglas Gray RSMA Breakfast on the Riviera

Above are just some of the works on display in what is the RSMA’s 70th Annual Exhibition, for which the Society is re-introducing a special display of smaller works to hang alongside stunning larger pieces at competitive prices. What better reason to visit the Society’s seventieth Annual Exhibition charting the “Seven Seas”, the country’s foremost showcase for the finest contemporary marine art.

View more highlights from the exhibition here



Image credit

David Curtis RSMA, Evening Binibequer Coastline - Menorca

Peter Brown on Kickstarting his LONDON book


Peter ‘Pete the Street’ Brown would love to publish a book of his London paintings, and has turned to the world of crowdfunding to help make this happen. Pledges can be made (in return for rewards) on his Kickstarter page which runs until 12 July.

Pete tells us about his first experience of crowdfunding.

It’s been a dream of mine to do a book of my London paintings. When someone suggested the idea of ‘doing a kickstarter’ to help raise the necessary funds it sounded like just the ticket (once they’d explained what a ‘kickstarter’ was!). I also knew that taking this step would focus my mind on the project. A commitment. A plan. A deadline. That’s what I needed.

So we gathered together quotes & prices, mocked-up a cover & inside spreads, dreamed-up ideas for rewards, did some number crunching, and began to piece the jigsaw together. We went ‘live’ a few weeks ago, announcing the campaign via my website, Facebook & Twitter pages, and anxiously awaited a response. I do hope people like the idea.

I felt a giddy mix of adrenalin and relief when I learned that people seemed to LOVE the idea! It was so exciting to watch the total rise as generous backers made pledges. And people were so kind with their messages of support, spreading the word to their friends.

I admit I’ve become rather addicted to checking the latest total. There are nail-biting slow days, followed by sudden rushes. It’s quite a rollercoaster. The campaign runs until 12 July, and it’s going great, but we’re not over the finish line yet. There’s still time to make a pledge if you’d like to be a part of this project

It’s a crazy busy time. That deadline that I mentioned earlier? Oh yes, there’s the small matter of actually writing the book and making sure I have the right balance of paintings to fill its 168 full-colour pages. London is such a vast, varied city, I know I’m not going to be able to cover everything but I want a good mix of locations, weather conditions and light... So I’ve identified ‘gaps’ and have been spending the last few weeks setting up my easel in locations that I’d overlooked in order to plug those holes. The book will also contain anecdotes from my travels around town, along with conversations I’ve had with locals and tourists.

It’s been such an exciting project, and wonderful to get such great support. With all these kind people backing the book, I’d better make sure it’s a damn good one!  

Pete’s Kickstarter campaign runs until 12 July. Rewards include copies of the book itself, plus a variety of other items, including postcards, calendars, original paintings and the rare opportunity to spend the day painting with ‘Pete the Street’.

Artist Talks: Janine Baldwin

Baldwin-Janine-Cropton Forest I.jpg

Exhibitions Intern Megan Fatharly interviews artist Janine Baldwin, whose work Cropton Forest I (above) won The Haworth Prize, worth £5,000, at The New English Art Club Annual Open Exhibition 2015 at Mall Galleries.

“I was so pleased for her,” says Megan about Janine winning the prize, “…as when I first viewed the exhibition I was drawn to her work because of how she managed to make a chaotic scene appear calm and tranquil”.

Megan Fatharly: How important is drawing to you and how often do you do it?

Janine Baldwin: Drawing is absolutely integral to my artistic practice. Even in my painting, I use oil bars (oil paint in solid form) to allow me to draw on the canvas alongside brushwork. Drawing to me is immediate and spontaneous and I try to channel a lot of energy into my drawing.

MF: How did you become involved with Mall Galleries, and how has winning The Haworth Prize helped your career so far? 

JB: I first exhibited with Mall Galleries in 2011, when my work was selected for the Society of Women Artists Annual Exhibition. From there I became interested in their other open exhibitions and I had my work selected by The Pastel Society in 2013, 2014 and 2015. In 2014 I was delighted to receive The Arts Club Charitable Trust Award for my work After the Rain at The Pastel Society exhibition. This year I was honoured to win The Haworth Prize which has been fantastic on so many levels. It brings my work to new audiences, both in the gallery space itself and through online and printed publicity for the shows. I would encourage any artist to submit work for the Mall Galleries’ open exhibitions as they put together diverse shows of an excellent standard, and being selected can lead to a whole range of opportunities. Artists can also apply to become a member after acceptance into consecutive shows. 

Janine Baldwin, After the Rain

MF: What’s been your favourite piece you've created?

JB: I can’t pick a favourite but I feel that my work is evolving all the time, which is exciting. I like different phases of my work for different reasons. 

MF: What artists influence you?

JB: Willem de Kooning, Patrick Heron, Cy Twombly, Joan Eardley and Peter Lanyon are amongst my absolute favourites. More recently, as I have been developing monochromatic work, I find artists such as Emma Stibbon inspiring. 

MF: How do you market yourself as an artist? What do you find has been successful and not so successful?

JB: I always make use of listing sites and databases which showcase artwork, and social media also plays a vital role in sharing information and new work. Newspaper articles are still a great way to reach thousands of people therefore getting to know your local arts editor is a good idea. I wouldn’t necessarily advise paying for adverts in magazines as it is often expensive and there is no guarantee the advert will be seen.

Janine Baldwin, Cropton Forest II

MF:When is your next up and coming exhibition?

JB: I will be taking part in a summer postcard show in my homewtown of Scarborough. It has been fun to make 4"x6" postcards and an ideal wat to try out new ideas and mediums without the commitment of a larger canvas or paper.

MF: What places inspire you?

JB: The landscapes and seascapes of Yorkshire are really where my heart is and I have returned to them repeatedly over the years. I am very focused on forests at the moment such as Cropton Forest and Silpho Forest, both in North Yorkshire, and I will never tire of the coastlines here in Yorkshire. Some have such a wild and remote feeling and the combinations of light, weather, colours and atmosphere are infinite. 


This interview first appeared on Megan’s blog, Megan’s Art Space

Society of Wildlife Artists Call for Entries

700Wswla logo black.jpg

There is under a week left to submit to the Society of Wildlife Artists' Open Exhibition. Work for this year's exhibition must be submitted online by 12 Noon, 7 August

Pre-selection from online entries will take place, after which successful artists will be invited to deliver their work to Mall Galleries, London, for final selection.

The Society of Wildlife Artists seeks submissions of work that depicts wildlife subjects and evoke the spirit of the natural world.

If you are thinking of submitting work to this year's SWLA Open Annual Exhibition then the Prize Winners from the 2014 exhibition, listed below, may help you decide what to submit this year.

RSPB Award

Federico Gemma SWLA, Whinchat, Giglio Island, Tuscany

The Dry Red Press Award

Max Angus SWLA, Woodcock pilots (Goldcrest) - North Norfolk

The Langford Press Award

Nicholas Pain, Flight of Manta Rays

The Langford Press Field Sketches Award

Szabolcs Kokay SWLA

image: Brown Sicklebill


The Hawk and Owl Trust's Roger Clarke Award

Adam Binder SWLA, Sparrowhawk


Birdscpaes Gallery Special Conservation Award

Carry Akroyd SWLA

image: Granite, Gannet, Annet

Image credit

Adam Binder SWLA, Sparrow Hawk

The New English Art Club: In Their Own Words Part Two


Michael Fairclough NEAC

At Sea - Dusk IX

It was the last of one sequence of 9 paintings, part of several series which were provoked by a Channel crossing. Other series in a similar vein are Sea Passage and Dog-Watch, each developing the theme of the fading of light until the final Dog-Watch paintings are virtually black and very simple - except that they are actually deeply colourful and full of texture!

Richard Pikesley

Edge of the Sea, Lyme Regis

For years I’ve painted on this beach, not just in summer but in foul winter weather too, but I hadn’t found this view until I saw it when returning from a swim. Painting whilst up to my knees in seawater brings some obvious practical difficulties but over the last two summers I had made many little watercolours whilst paddling at this spot. A little tin of colours and a single sheet of paper clipped to the lid of a cigar box makes a decent portable studio and the splashes from passing bathers don’t do too much damage. The oils of this subject are in part developed from these tiny watercolours though some of the smaller ones were painted on the spot from the end of a timber breakwater.

Peter Clossick NEAC

Juilet Yardley Mills

Widely known as JYM she was one of Frank Auerbach’s favourite models, who sat for me for many years. We became close and as a “muse” she was inspirational, I owe her a lot. The painting was done over many hours and sessions, through many stages, with JYM always there in front of me, looking determined and regal.

Susan Ryder NEAC RP

The Buffalo Chair

I love this view 'looking through' in my daughter's house, and managed to find time to paint it while looking after a sick grandson who lay on a sofa watching me and the television!

Diana Calvert NEAC

Gooseberries in the Irish Pot

I love painting gooseberries as I find them very beautiful and they are all different, the Irish Pot is just that, a very lovely pot that I bought in a craft shop in Connemara.

New English Art Club Prizes & Awards

Baldwin-Janine-Cropton Forest I.jpg

Scarborough-based Janine Baldwin has been announced the winner of the first ever £4,000 Haworth Prize for landscape painting and drawing for her charcoal drawing, Cropton Forest I.

The Prize, sponsored by The Haworth Trust is for young artists (aged 35 years and under) living and working in the North of England, creating work inspired by their surroundings.

Janine, 35, says of her winning work:

“There are so many beautiful landscapes in Yorkshire I love but, Cropton Forest in North Yorkshire is one of my favourites. It offers a beguiling mix of intense darkness between the trees and patches of sunlight dappling the forest floor, and there are multiple layers within this landscape – tall linear tree forms, overgrown scrubland and deeply entrenched paths. To depict these layers in my work, as well as convey life and movement, I have made grooves in the surface of the paper and layered with charcoal, graphite and pastel. Marks on the paper have also been erased in order to create a transient effect, reflecting the changing shape of the forest. Above all I hope to capture the essence of Cropton Forest, and the sense of peace and tranquillity it evokes."

Richard Pikesley, President of the New English Art Club, was on the selection panel: “We chose Cropton Forest I as the winning piece because of its strength and immediacy, the observational quality of its drawing and for the haunting atmosphere it creates looking through the woodland.”

The Prize builds on the New English Art Club’s tradition of painting and drawing from observation and of supporting emerging artists.

Buy online now

Other Prizes & Awards

The Zsuzsi Roboz Prize

The Zsuzsi Roboz Prize of £5,000 is awarded by The Alfred Teddy Smith and Zsuzsi Roboz Art Trust, to a work of excellence in the New English Art Club Annual Exhibition.

Arthur Neal NEAC

Corner of the Studio II

"Arthur Neal could be conveniently described as a "painter's painter" - in other words a painter that other artists would like to emulate in his use of paint and structure. Tonal values hold the construction of this abstract portrayal of the studio interior, but there are other works by the artist on show here in both oil and pastel. A good painter wanting to be discovered." - David Messum

Buy online now

The Doreen McIntosh Prize (£5,000)

James Bland NEAC

Woman at a Table

Woman at a Table, one of James’ recent studio paintings. Painted from life, the sitter is positioned next to the 2 dimensional cardboard prop of the table and objects, which James makes himself, allowing accurate yet distorted perspective of the space and objects around the figure, creating a dreamlike sensation.

Commission James Bland NEAC to create a work just for you

The Arts Club Charitable Trust Award (£1,000)

Sarah Jane Moon

Studio II


Buy online now

The Winsor & Newton Award (£500)

Michael Weller

Late January Pears

The NEAC Critics' Prize (£250)

Tom Hughes

Clifton Suspension Bridge, Contre Jour, January

Commission Tom Hughes to create a work just for you

The Prize of the Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers (£200)

Michael Whittlesea

Self 2015

Buy online now

The Dry Red Press Award

June Berry NEAC

A Walk Across the Fields

Commission June Berry to create a work just for you


Call for Entries

The NEAC seeks work which demonstrates excellence in both concept and draughtsmanship. The Call for Entries is currently open, submit your artwork before Friday 4 March 2016.

For more information please click here.

The New English Art Club Annual Open Exhibition is open from 18 - 27 June. 

Image credit

Tom Hughes, Clifton Suspension Bridge, Contre Jour, January (detail)

The New English Art Club: In Their Own Words Part One


Melissa Scott-Miller NEAC RP

Bloomsbury Back Gardens

I painted this from the bathroom window of my friend Comfort’s flat in Percy Circus.

It was quite difficult, I had to balance the canvas on the edge of the washbasin, but I wanted to get as much in as I could. The children are Comfort’s five children, the little boy on the bike is actually 16 now, my son’s best friend but I painted him as I knew him when we first met, and as I remember the many lovely children's parties that happened in that garden. The same cat appears three times in the painting, he always seemed to be there, through the month it took to paint.

Jenny Wheatley NEAC

View of the Islands

This painting was inspired by regular visits to the isles of Scilly and is a composite of drawings that have come together to try to create the domestic French-inspired interior with the tranquil view over the islands that I love so much.

Jenny Wheatley NEAC

The Black Friar

Origami papers, Victorian scraps and painted torn papers come together here to try to convey both the decorative nature of the Black Friar pub on the north side of Blackfriars Bridge and the timeless nature of the elaborate façade that has stood firm when most of the buildings around it have disappeared.

Julian Bailey NEAC

Windy Pear, Weymouth

The gouaches I do are painted in my studio, usually based on pencil sketches that I make on the spot out in the open. They are completed with many layers of paint, and constant revisions, until things fall into place in a way that I feel makes for a good resolution. Gouache is endlessly malleable so long as you let the paint dry fully between layers, and the colour is an absolute joy to use.

Pamela Kay NEAC RBA

Two Tea Bowls of Primroses

Every year I look forward to the first flowers of spring and the early primroses. These delicate, almost ghostly flowers are deceptively subtle to paint. 'Much more difficult than you think' John Ward once said to me and he was right. Each year, it is important to see them as if for the first time, and collecting a range of pots, jars and bowls to put them in, gives a fresh set of 'props'

The two Chinese tea bowls are old friends that I found, chipped and dusty in the shop at the Museum in Singapore years ago. I recently returned to the Museum but it had been greatly enlarged from the old colonial building it used to be and the shop, no longer a treasure house of local antiques, but an expensive boutique.

Buy it when you see it is the best advice to any still life painter!

Michael Fairclough NEAC

At Sea - Dusk IX

It was the last of one sequence of 9 paintings, part of several series which were provoked by a Channel crossing. Other series in a similar vein are SEA PASSAGE and DOG-WATCH, each developing the theme of the fading of light until the final DOG-WATCH paintings are virtually black and very simple - except that they are actually deeply colourful and full of texture!

Part Two of this series, including NEAC President Richard Pikesley, will be posted later this week.

The NEAC Annual Open Exhibition opens to the public on 18 June. See the works online now

Six unmissable works at the New English Art Club Annual Open Exhibition

New English Art Club.jpg

Lewis McNaught, Director of Mall Galleries, selects six of the best at the New English Art Club Annual Open Exhibition

Exhibition open from 18-27 June, 2015

View works from the exhibition online now

Louise Balaam NEAC

Light on the Clouds, Ullapool

Oil, 51 x 51 cm

Balaam’s expressionistic landscapes reveal her passion for form, colour and mark making. You don’t need scale to convey the essence of a landscape when the brush can do the work for you. This is one of five powerful oil on panel works by Balaam in this year’s exhibition.

James Bland NEAC


Oil, 30 x 26 cm

It’s good to see such high quality work from new members of the NEAC. Bland made a strong impact at the 2014 Threadneedle Prize with a work entitled Ghost. This still life is a departure from the figure studies where he is making such an impact, but the palette and brushwork are equally vigorous and accomplished.

Peter Brown NEAC PS ROI RP Hon RBA

Notre Dame from Quai des Grands Augustins

Oil on canvas, 63.5 x 76 cm

‘Pete the Street’ is best known for his street views around London and Bath (where he lives). But recently he’s been venturing across the Channel, creating some wonderful impressionistic, plein air views of Paris and other cities. This is an especially vibrant view that recalls happy memories for many of us….

Michael Cooper NEAC

Evening Landscape

Oil, 28 x 65 cm

I love Cooper’s treatment of this wide-open space, depicted sparingly using a simple but striking colour palette. The textural qualities of the finish encourage you to linger over the surface and enjoy the finished view, imposing your own thoughts about the red shape in the hillscape.

Tom Harforth

Behind Preston

Silkscreen on Washi paper & map, 39 x 26 cm

This year’s exhibition includes a new prize, awarded to a young artist from the North of England who’s created a work inspired by their surroundings. Talent abounds, although the winner has yet to be announced. It’s not hard to imagine why this exquisite but gritty, urban street view by Harforth has been selected.

Melissa Scott-Miller NEAC RP

Bloomsbury Square

Oil on canvas, 66 x 97 cm

Nobody paints London bricks as well as Melissa! Like ‘Pete the Street’ Melissa can often be spied around North London and the West End capturing the rugged hues and tones of London’s terraced architecture. In this view, she’s included a portrait of herself at Bloomsbury Square in bloom.

Six Unmissable Works at The Art of a Nation


Director of Mall Galleries, Lewis McNaught has selected six unmissable works from The Art of a Nation exhibition

More about the exhibition:

The selection on show is a marvellous profile of Irish visual art since the turn of the 20th century - The Financial Times

The first major show of Irish art in London for over 30 years – taken from a collection assembled by a bank then made available to the nation after the financial crisis – reveals a century’s worth of poetry and protest on canvas - Guardian

Letitia Hamilton, Clew Bay

This jewel of a little landscape, muted in its palette but with brushwork quivering with energy, demonstrates just how much Irish artists who travelled to France absorbed from the Post-Impressionists. Hamilton painted this work on her return to County Mayo. Using a palette knife and large brushstrokes, she has captured the energy and ruggedness of Clew Bay, part of the stunning coastline that runs along the west of Ireland.

Séan Keating, On the Run, War of Independence

There are no works by Keating in any major UK public collection. This work underlines why this is a serious omission. Keating lived through turbulent times and as a commentator on Irish political history his paintings, like this one painted in 1921 depicting freedom fighters during Ireland’s war of independence, take on an historical and artistic significance beyond the attraction of their mood and composition.

Mainie Jellett, Composition with 3 Elements

The strong, lyrical quality that runs through the Irish visual arts is perfectly captured in this wonderful poetic composition by Mainie Jellett. The influence of Modernism, and Cubism in particular, pervades this canvas. But unlike the Cubist works of Gris, Braque and Picasso there is no aggression, objection or statement to unsettle. The form and colours of this work, painted c.1935, melt into a lyrical composition that is utterly poetic.

Hughie O’Donoghue, On our Knees

Narrative runs wide and deep through Irish painting and sculpture. The great famine and exodus to North America in the middle of the 19th century continues to haunt contemporary Irish artists. O’Donoghue’s crouching figure alludes to the suffering and grinding poverty his family experienced in a remote corner of northwest Mayo. Every mark captures his emotion; every brushstroke is a wound still to heal.

Willie Doherty, Border Road (1994)

This monumental study of the barriers and roadblocks that formed the subject of his Border Road series are as important as historical documents as they are powerful photographic images. Doherty didn’t shy from producing dramatic, unsettling images during the period known as ‘the Troubles’. But the beauty of the Irish landscape pervades, overpowering the transitory nature of the barricades. There’s hope as well as unease in this image.

Shane Blount, It’s a Blue Giraffe

More narrative and more deep-rooted emotion. When Shane Blount’s brother Joseph died he chose to paint this portrait of his other brother David. Composed amidst the imagery and memories of their youths, this portrait goes beyond the exterior image of a teenage youth and captures the sorrow and loss of a sibling. It’s an outstanding painting by a self-taught artist with so much to say to the world through his art.