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.

Estelle Lovatt visits the Royal Society of British Artists Annual Exhibition

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It was both a delight and thrill to be the ‘Art Expert in Residence’ for yet another Mall Galleries exhibition; The Royal Society of British Artists (RBA).

On my arrival, I was greeted by a monumental bronze sculpture, sculpted by invited artist, Michael Sandle RA, Honorary Member of the Society (reproduced by kind permission of Flowers Gallery, ‘As Ye Sow So Shall Ye Reap: An Allegory (Acknowledgement to Holman Hunt)’.

There’s something magical about the RBA exhibition.  The level of creative talent and artistic ability that’s in the painting, sculpture, printmaking and drawing, is top quality. It’s a varied and wide-ranging exhibition, fused with Classicalism, where the figurative, intellectual theory and style is more formal, in comparison with the abstract, Contemporary, personal craftmanship that’s imaginably created through more emotional thought processes.

The quality of the RBA artwork serves us well.  I was gripped by the expressive urban landscape, the excellent use of pastel describing water, the portrait styled from the artist’s perspective, the colourful abstract perspicaciously winning fine standards.

It was absolutely buzzing with people enjoying the triumphant variety of different techniques of RBA artworks, and the Society’s esteemed Rome Scholarship for young artists; this is where you’ll discover the climbing art stars of tomorrow.  I enjoyed chatting to gallery visitors about the memorable art on show.  Looking around, they said, “I could live with this one and that one…I’ve returned to this exhibition so many times since it opened because there’s so much nice art - that I really, really, like!..It’s a very varied exhibition...Reasonably priced!”

 I love meeting the exhibition visitors, and talk with them about all things art.  For me, the Mall Galleries, is the most perfect location to have a heart-to-heart about art over coffee.  I feel very much at home at The Mall Galleries.  The crowds of visitors obviously do too.  Plus, I had the pleasure of meeting and talking to Honorary Secretary, Brenda Davies, whose hard work in supporting the RBA pays off.

I look forward to being Art Expert in Residence, seeing the Marine Artists (RSMA) inspired by the sea and marine environment, in October.

See you then!



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The Royal Society of British Artists 2019: Prize Winners

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Get acquainted with this year's prize winners from the Royal Society of British Artists Annual Exhibition.

Tara Versey Dark Turns to LightEtching, 40 x 30cm, £380

Tara Versey, winner of The Rome Scholarship

Each year, the RBA sends a young, emerging artist on a month-long residency in Rome. This year, Tara Versey has won the prestigious scholarship. This is not the first time Versey has won the opportunity to go abroad. In 2010, she was given the Richard Ford Award by the Royal Drawing School, enabling her to spend a month in Madrid, creating work in the Prado. Find out more about the Rome Scholarship here.

“Drawing calms, yet stimulates. Drawing is feeling. Drawing is seeing. Drawing is concentration. Drawing is meaningful. Drawing is fundamental to my work and me – it is the foundation to lay before anything else can arise.” – Tara Versey

Yu Fan Running Whippet Bronze, 30 x 35 x 15cm, £8,500

Yu Fan, winner of The de Laszlo Foundation Prize (£1,500)

The de Laszlo Foundation Prize is awarded to an artist aged 35 or under for the best work from life. This year’s winner is 34-year-old sculptor, Yu Fan, who currently resides in Los Angeles. His bronze cast, ‘Running Whippet’, shows a greyhound in motion.

Benjamin Hope NEAC PS ARSMA Southwark Bridge Road Oil, 48 x 37cm, £1,500

Benjamin Hope NEAC PS ARSMA, Winner of The Michael Harding Award (£500 worth of art materials)

Benjamin Hope has been awarded one of two Michael Harding Awards for his painterly depiction of London’s ‘Southwark Bridge Road’. Benjamin is a member of the New English Art Club, The Pastel Society and an Associate member of the Royal Society of Marine Artists. He draws and paints directly from life both in and outside of the studio. "Working in this way results in marks that are reactive, and for me, it is the best way to capture what it feels like to be with the subject,” the artist explains. Alan Lambirth Sen RBA won the second Michael Harding Award for his work 'Afternoon Tea'. 

Sarah Spackman The Pear Between Oil, 37 x 42cm, £950

Sarah Spackman, The Gordon Hulson Memorial Prize (£250)

Oxford-based artist Sarah Spackman won The Gordon Hulson Memorial Prize for ‘The Pear Between’. "I loved the colour of this pear and became fascinated by the contrast between it and the beautiful yellow pot from the studio. This was painted from observation, creating the form and space through the colour," the artist reveals.

Sarah is a contemporary figurative artist well known for her still-life paintings. She graduated from Camberwell School of Art in 1981 and has been working as a full-time artist since 1986. Her work is held in many private collections and a number of paintings have also been selected for the contemporary art collection of the AIB Bank.

Brett Hudson Dark Lines Watercolours, 70 x 90cm, £3,600

Brett Hudson, Hahnemuhle Fine Art UK Award (£250)

Brett Hudson has won the Hahnemuhle Fine Art UK Award for his depiction of this location in the south-western corner of London. Brett was "taken by the dark tones of the bridge and the Blackfriars station with the lovely old pub.” The artist's background as an illustrator is evident here, in the flat, graphic style in which he has applied watercolours. 

Martin Langford Puppet Master Etching 87 x 73cm, £460 (£390 unframed)

Martin Langford, The Stuart Southall Print Prize (£250)

Martin Langford’s ‘Puppet Master’ has been awarded The Stuart Southall Print Prize for best original print in the exhibition. The work is a comment on the internet, social media and the “grip” it has on society. He studied at Polytechnic South West and earned a postgraduate degree in Advanced Printmaking at Central St Martin’s College of Art. 

“My work tends to focus on the environment, the evolution of man and his material wealth, the development of bigger and bigger cities, more and more people, cars and industry on the planet and the consequences this has on nature.” – Martin Langford

David Sawyer RBA Campanile Sant'Ignazio all'Olivella, Palermo Oil, 73 x 38cm, £2,500

David Sawyer RBA, Frinton Frames Award (£200 worth of framing)

David Sawyer was awarded the Frinton Frames Award for his painting of Campanile Sant' Ignazio, a baroque church in Palermo. He describes himself as a modern British Impressionist, working within the tradition of landscape painting. "I am mainly interested in architectural subjects and the effect of light in revealing the nature of its structure and creating a mood or atmosphere," the artist explains.

Clive Duncan RBA Vespasian's Game 2 Stone & Steel, £3,000

Clive Duncan RBA, Winner of the Nathan David Award for Sculpture (£150)

Clive Duncan was awarded the Nathan David Award for his steel and stone sculpture, ‘Vespasian’s Game 2’. Educated at Camberwell School of Art, London and City & Guilds of London Sculpture School, Clive went on to assist Kim James, Uli Nimptsch RA and David McFall RA among others, and until recently taught at the Sir John Cass School of Art. All in all, he has 44 years experience making, teaching and discussing sculpture.

While Duncan is highly committed to the trueness of form when it comes to sculpture, he states that ‘the medium in the end is but a vehicle for illuminating significant themes within the fabric of life.” He quotes Gottfried Richter as a reference point which forms the basis of his practice: “Art makes visible otherwise hidden cultural and psychological forces.”

Henry Jabbour Gaze Not into My Eyes Oil, 66 x 61cm, SOLD

Henry Jabbour, Winner of The Davison Award for Oil Painting (£100) and The Winsor & Newton Painting Award (£500 worth of art materials)

Henry Jabbour has won The Davison Award for Oil Painting with ‘Gaze Not into my Eyes’ and The Winsor & Newton Painting Award for 'Out of my Mouth in Heaven'. Henry originally trained as a biologist and for many years pursued a successful career as a medical scientist, until 2010, when he decided to pursue his passion and become a full-time artist. He subsequently studied painting in Edinburgh and New York. Born in Beirut, Lebanon, he now lives in the UK. "My current body of work focuses on the human figure. I am interested in the emotive qualities of body gesture, colour and mark making," the painter and printmaker shares.

Owain Hunt Painter's Dog Resting Oil 90 x 65cm, £8,500

Owain Hunt, The Geoffrey Vivis Memorial Award (£100)

RBA Rising Star and In the Studio participant, Owain Hunt, won The Geoffrey Vivis Memorial Award for a portrait of his brother and their pet. ‘The Painter's Dog Resting’ depicts Hector, the painter's dog, resting in early summer. Around the time of the first sitting, Hector was sadly diagnosed with congenital heart failure, at the premature age of one. His prognosis gave him a life expectancy of 8 months, to March 2019 (the date the painting was completed). The Painter's brother comforts Hector. Owain will be exhibiting more work in the upcoming In the Studio exhibition, 12 to 17 August.

Meg Burridge Terrace Sunlight Oil, 30 x 42cm each, NFS

Meg Burridge, The Arts Society Star Student Award (£100 worth of art shop vouchers)

19-year-old Meg Burridge, is interested in showing beauty in the mundane, hoping to reveal overlooked areas in a new light. Working predominantly in oil paint, she has found an appreciation of the natural fluctuations of a painted line, as well as subtle use of colour to create the interplay of light and shadow. Burridge recognises the power of composition and simplicity, to depict her surroundings and everyday experiences. She uses art as a vessel to reveal her awe at the world which surrounds her. In this triptych, 'Terrace Sunlight', she used colour and light to demonstrate the hidden beauty of a run-down area.

Bernadett Timko Study of Max Oil, 65 x 80cm, £2,200

Bernadett Timko, Winner of The Anthony J Lester Art Critic Award

Born in Hungary in 1992, Bernadett Timko moved to London aged 14. She studied portrait painting and figurative sculpture at the Heatherley's School of Fine Art and has been working as a multi-media artist ever since. For those interested in owning Bernadett's work, we have a new selection of her paintings available to purchase on Buy Art | Buy Now.

Annie Boisseau RBA Red Earth, Sky Blue Oil, 55 x 55cm, £1,475

Annie Boisseau RBA, The Artist Magazine Award (feature in the magazine)

Annie Boisseau RBA was awarded The Artist Magazine Award for all of her works featured in this exhibition: 'Pink Moon', 'Red Earth, Sky Blue', 'To The River', Golden Light on the Hillside' and 'Autumn Light'. As the winner of The Artist Magazine Award, Annie will be interviewed in The Artist magazine, print and digital editions.

"I see my work as a contemporary interpretation of the tradition of Romantic landscape painting. It is inspired by an emotional response to the natural world, investigating the often transient qualities of time, space, memories or emotions with expressive semi-abstract painting. My painting process evolves through transforming and abstracting the subject. Layers of transparent paint are applied to the surface to create an atmospheric quality that suggests an unveiling or discovery of the poetic mystery of the landscape." 

Holly Gallant Bobby Oil, 70 x 70cm, SOLD

Holly Gallant, The Dry Red Press Award (work published as a greeting card)

'Bobby' by Holly Gallant will be published as a greeting card in the Dry Red Press 'Prize Winners' range, with royalties from the sale of the cards going to the artist. Awarded for the first time to an RBA Rising Star, Holly is studying at Suffolk One Sixth Form College in Ipswich. 

"Bobby" is Holly’s "pride and joy, her best friend, loving, faithful and full of energy." She wanted to capture his spirit in her painting. 

Bethany Whell Window Light Graphite Pencil, 31 x 23cm, SOLD

Bethany Whell, winner of The LARA Prize for a Young Artist (Free short course in London)

19-year-old Bethany Whell is influenced by the human figure and the expression of raw humanity and emotion through art. The artist uses her work to channel personal insecurities about body image in a therapeutic way to alleviate depression and anxiety. It motivates Whell to view the human figure portrayed with such passion; this is what she strives to depict in her study. In every finished piece, she aspires to capture a conscience that resonates with every individual that views it.

Amber Li The River Mixed Media, 68 x 76cm, NFS

Amber Li, winner of The Surgeon's Prize

Amber Li was a sixth former at the time of creating 'The River' which was awarded The Surgeon Prize, which first exhibited in the RBA Rising Stars group show earlier this year. She has since embarked on a Foundation course at the University of the Arts Camberwell. Amber's main focus is the use of collage and layering, connecting all of the elements together and seeing how unexpected relationships appear. 

Gareth Hugh Davies, winner of The Patron's Prize

'The Bright Field’ by Gareth Hugh Davies was awarded The Patron's Prize

Browse & Buy the Exhibition Online 

The Royal Society of British Artists Annual Exhibition is on view at Mall Galleries from 4 to 14 July.


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Gaze into my Eyes by Henry Jabbour

Estelle Lovatt visits the New English Art Club Annual Exhibition

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Artist, art critic and Mall Galleries' Art Expert in Residence, Estelle Lovatt FRSA, shares her thoughts on the New English Art Club Annual Exhibition 2019.

For me, the summer art calendar in London is all about the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition, the National Portrait Gallery’s BP Portrait Award, and the New English Art Club (NEAC) at Mall Galleries.  Thus, it was my absolute pleasure to be Mall Galleries Art Expert in Residence, at the 2019 NEAC Annual Exhibition.

From its history, the NEAC was founded in London in 1885, as an alternative platform to the RA, exhibiting art by both members and artists from Britain and abroad, whose work has been selected from an annual open submission.

To the left and right of me, I see exceptionally imaginative works of art in different styles and diverse media; distinctive, strong, dynamic and unconstrained. “Composition Is King” and this comes through the skills of confident drawing, glorious colour theory, believable perspective, informative tone, texture with personality, and other aesthetically pleasing essentials, that must feature in the artist’s practice.

During my NEAC residency session, it was my great pleasure to engage in very interesting art conversations with the gallery-goers.  I felt enriched talking to visitors about all things art: from what the benefits might be for today’s artists using social media platforms to how they can technically capture as much gusto and oomph as possible in their artwork whatever the subject matter, be it a landscape, still life, portrait or playful pet. It was just wonderful to hear people chatting about the art to each other, exclaiming in front of their favourites, “That’s good, isn’t it!... I love this one!... Fantastic….I really like this style of painting….I could definitely live with this one….”

I had a lovely day.  Time well spent. Seeing art of such a high standard always makes me feel totally absorbed; it’s like oxygen for my eyes. Thank you NEAC exhibiting artists.

The New English Art Club Annual Exhibition is available to browse and buy online.


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The Royal Society of British Artists and the Rebirth of Alexandra Palace Theatre

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With the recent restoration of the Victorian theatre at Alexandra Palace, members of the Royal Society of British Artists were inspired to capture the Palace in all its former glory. 

The Victorian theatre at Alexandra Palace was recently restored, having been left derelict for some eighty years. The rebirth of its almost mystical original interior has inspired members of the Royal Society of British Artists (RBA) to create works of art based on the Palace, the restoration of the theatre and its history, some of which feature in the Society’s Annual Exhibition at Mall Galleries, opening 4 July.

Most of us know Alexandra Palace, or 'Ally Pally', as the location of the first BBC broadcasts starting in November 1936.

Melissa Scott-Miller RP NEAC RBA, Alexandra Palace, Autumn Oil, 60 x 60 cm, £2,000

When the Palace first opened in 1873, it was called ‘The People’s Palace’ and in its first sixteen days, attracted over 120,000 visitors to its concert hall, art galleries, museum, lecture hall, library and theatre. Just 16 days later, the Palace was consumed by a fire. Over a century later in 1980, the building was once again engulfed in flames, burning a large part of the Palace to the ground. The latter blaze has been recreated by Annie Boisseau, the newest member of the Society, whose contemporary interpretation of Romantic Landscape painting fits the dramatic scene perfectly.

Annie Boisseau RBA Fire at Ally Pally Oil

One of the few areas to survive this conflagration was the impressive Palm Court, as depicted here by Meg Dutton:

Meg Dutton RBA Palm Court Etching

By 1875, the Palace had been rebuilt and the theatre’s stage incorporated cutting edge technology to allow the performers to disappear, reappear and be propelled into the air. Much use was made of these innovations for the very first pantomime staged in the Theatre, ‘The Yellow Dwarf’. It was descriptions of this extravaganza that provided the inspiration for Mick Davies painting:

Mick Davies VPRBA Dwarf at the Palace

“For me, this project is all about the acts rather than the surroundings, about the shows that amazed the audiences by the special effects that were new in those days – exploding cannons, people vaulting out of trap doors. It seemed very bizarre. I just want that kind of excitement,” says Mick.

The music hall, melodrama and acrobatic acts popular during this time have inspired many of the artists in their work.

Bridget Moore Sen RBA NEAC Old Clowns Gouache, 36 x 36 cm, £825

When the theatre closed all those years ago, it was neglected and used as a scenery store by the BBC until the 1950s, before being left to fall into complete disrepair. The decaying, cavernous space, with many of its earliest features intact, inspired RBA artist Austin Cole, who visited it during the recent restoration:

“My first impression as I walked into the theatre was, what an amazing space. It really was quite overwhelming – the building work, the renovation, the noise, the movement. What I focussed on was the drama of the light coming in from the back of the stage,” Austin recalls.

Austin Cole RBA Ally Pally Circle Etching, 30 x 50 cm, £320 (£240 u/f)

But now, newly restored, the theatre is once again open to the public for theatrical and musical performances 146 years after it first opened to awe-struck crowds.

Steven Outram RBA Ta-Da! The Brightest Star Oil, 43 x 38 cm, £4,800

There are a number of events taking place alongside the exhibition to celebrate this project:

Friday 5 July, 2pm to 4pm - Drawing Session with Balloon Modelling

Monday 8 July, 2pm - Talk and Screening about the project

Tuesday 9 July, 11am to 1pm - Austin Cole RBA, Printing Alexandra Palace

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Annie Boisseau RBA Fire at Ally Pally

Royal Society of British Artists forges links with young Blacksmiths at Hereford College of Arts

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The Royal Society of British Artists (RBA) works hard throughout the year to support and encourage young and emerging artists. Alongside the Rome Scholarship, the RBA Rising Stars exhibition, the RBA Star Students programme and offering the de Lazslo Foundation and LARA Prizes to young artists, this year the RBA have forged links with the BA Artist Blacksmithing course at Hereford College of Arts.

Always striving to encourage young sculptors, Vice President Mick Davies visited the College along with Honorary Treasurer, Francis Drasar, earlier this year. The technical aspects of metal working exemplify the RBA’s dedication to combining high artistic concepts with equally high standards of skill and draughtsmanship and the Society was so impressed by the work being produced by the students that they invited four to exhibit pieces in the Annual Exhibition. Acclaimed RBA sculptor Guy Portelli will visit the college to address the students and offer mentoring advice.

Giles Clarke (b. 1995) 

Flow I

Flow is a series of sculptures that use the five fundamental processes involved in the art of blacksmithing to take the audience on a journey of exploration into our questioning nature as humans. With their playful nature, they aim to evoke a child-like sense of curiosity in the audience. The themes involved in Flow are fundamental to my practice and allow me to constantly question what it is I am pursuing. It is this sense of rigorous questioning I would like people to experience, not only when viewing my work, but something I would like them to take with them. 

Flow II

Flow II adds the element of balance to its form, the cantilever offers a perfect vehicle to add the 'impossible' balancing act.

Jacob Edwards (b. 1997)

Let the Light In 

Let the Light In is made using traditional joining techniques which become the main visual features. By using a wedged fixing, it allows multiple materials to be used, in this case, perspex. The wedged joints as well as the base and lid aim to give the vessel a sense of containment while the perspex allows a point of escape or entry. The fact that the perspex is heavily frosted hides what might be inside.

Containment is constructed from mild steel, featuring two silicon bronze wedges at the front. The base is sealed completely, while the wedges and lid provide a sense of containment for the remaining surfaces.

The bronze hints that there might be something valuable inside the vessel, while still providing a secure fixing. The lid has four rivets which reference industrial construction, particularly in bridges, which is meant to add to the sense of security and containment.


Kit Garnett (b. 1998)

Raindrops I 

The raindrops series comes from research into movements of energy, specifically the sudden change or introduction of energy to a previously rigid or regular form. My aim is to represent impact and the beauty that can be found in the chaotic nature of sudden physical change. The sculpture is an abstraction of water droplets colliding with a greater body of water, encapsulating the action and movement that happens in a split second. The transition between forms is a period that is usually unnoticed due to the velocity that it occurs. However, I have found beautifully irregular forms can be produced at this point of impact.

Raindrops II

Stuart Ryan (b. 1997) 

The Flight of Rays

The Flight of Rays is an exploration of a Fever (group of rays) of Mobular rays. This sculpture is inspired by my admiration of the oceans and the creatures that inhabit them. Through the medium of forged metal, I investigate the flow and movement that is visible in the large groups of these rays. I have created a sculpture that focuses on the beauty of the animals rather than the horrific cruelties they face. The sculpture is created to influence people into becoming more pragmatic in the clean-up of our oceans.

The Royal Society of British Artists Annual Exhibition is on

view at Mall Galleries from 4 to 14 July 

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Kit Garnett, Raindrops II

The New English Art Club 2019 Annual Exhibition: Prize Winners

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Introducing the prize winners of the New English Art Club Annual Exhibition 2019.

This year's New English Art Club Annual Exhibition is swelling with talent from established members to new emerging artists. Last night, a series of covetable prizes were awarded to five painters at the Private View. The variety and range of works included in this list of winners is reflective of the adventurous and bold nature of the society, something which will no doubt continue to flourish under the leadership of Peter Brown PNEAC and Sarah Spencer VPNEAC. 

Castle by Joseph Ryan: Oil, 85 x 60 cm - £2,000

Joseph Ryan, winner of The Doreen McIntosh Prize (£5,000) and the NEAC Critics’ Prize (£250)

Both The Doreen McIntosh Prize and the NEAC Critics' Prize have been awarded to Joseph Ryan. ‘Castle’ depicts the artist’s wife, painted with oil on linen. Joseph has been exhibiting with the New English since 2015. A contemporary figurative artist, working in the modernist tradition, his work revolves around the themes of family, perception and the pursuit of an image.

The Doreen McIntosh Prize was set up by Sir Ronald McIntosh, an avid collector of the New English Art Club, in memory of his late wife. Both have since passed away. In their absence, Joseph was selected as the winner by their nieces.

Hackney by Julia Jackson NEAC: Mixed Media, 88 x 91 cm - £1,200

Julie Jackson NEAC, winner of The Bowyer Drawing Prize (£1,000)

As Peter Brown writes in the President's Foreword of this year's New English Art Club exhibition catalogue, the society is "underpinned by drawing", a point well illustrated by The Bowyer Drawing Prize. The prize was created in honour of William Bowyer RA RP PPNEAC, who passed away in 2015, by his sons Jason and Francis. Following the tragic passing of Jason earlier this year, the award now commemorates both Jason and his father.

“Drawing is crucial and always helps to restore my perception of space,” says winner Julie Jackson, who works from sketches which she creates through direct observation, developing them until they are “deeply felt”. 

Julie started painting with Jason Bowyer after she was awarded the first New English Scholarship. Since then, she has found that “being part of a group of artists is very important to me.”

Whitstable Sky and Seascape by Sarah Spencer VPNEAC: Oil, 86 x 99 cm - SOLD

Sarah Spencer VPNEAC, winner of The Peter Ashley Framing Prize (£500 of picture framing), presented by The Artistic Framing Company

The Peter Ashley Framing Prize was awarded to the society's Vice President, Sarah Spencer, for her painting of Whitstable. It’s no surprise that Spencer hails from Kent herself, given the zeal with which she captures a beacon of light peering through the foreboding clouds – evidence, perhaps, of a silver lining in the distance.

JMW Turner was famously drawn to Kent for the unique quality of light there and the atmosphere it gave his paintings – as is evident in this brooding yet luminescent painting by Spencer.

3/15/2018 by Sean Cunningham: Oil, 36 x 41 cm - SOLD

Sean Cunningham, winner of the Jackson’s Art Supplies Prize (£300)

Sean Cunningham has been awarded Jackson’s Art Supplies Prize for his work, '3/15/2018', made using acrylic on board. This painting was created in a day using the available daylight. The title, unsurprisingly, refers to the date it was painted. Cunningham previously exhibited at Mall Galleries with the Royal Society of British Artists (RBA) in 2018.  

Mother & Child – South Downs by Robert E Wells: Oil, 33 x 33 cm - £1,200

Robert E Wells NEAC RBA, winner of The Dry Red Press Award (work published as a greeting card)

Robert E Wells NEAC RBA is one of the society's more recent members, joining in 2017. "It means a huge amount to me on a personal level," said Robert, "I see it as a fine tradition and heritage of which I am proud to say I am a part of."

On July 9, Robert will in the gallery to deliver a talk on “The Power of the Sketchbook”, examining its use as part of the creative process. Robert will provide a number of his own working books to demonstrate the process from initial drawings through to large studio paintings, and their use as a constant source of reference material. There will also be an opportunity for an informal portfolio review if artists wish to bring along their own sketchbooks for discussion. 

View the New English Art Club Annual Exhibition 

The New English Art Club is on view at Mall Galleries from 14 June to 22 June.

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3/5/18 by Sean Cunningham

New English Art Club Annual Exhibition: Interactive Map


Take a virtual trip around the world with our interactive map which plots a plethora of far-flung places across the globe, depicted by artists in this year's New English Art Club Annual Exhibition.

You might find yourself peeping at lovers in Venice or climbing the Swiss mountains of Martigny, taking in the morning mist of Toscana or admiring the architecture of Geneva cathedral. San Francisco doesn't take your fancy, how about a Himalayan Temple?

Or perhaps you’re more of a home bird, in which case, why not take an amble around London, through Michael Whittlesea's busy streets of Shoreditch, then stop to take in the view at Melissa Scott-Miller's Islington window and finally kick back with Ruth Stage’s serene depiction of the Thames at Richmond.

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Michael Whittlesea NEAC Shoreditch

Lillie Langtry and the Evolution of the Muse

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With George Frederic Watts’ portrait of 1870s socialite Lillie Langtry currently exhibiting in the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition, we take a look at what it means to be a muse then and now.

Lillie Langtry was the quintessential muse. A British-American actress, producer and socialite, she captivated 1870s London with her charm, talent and good looks. Not only did she inspire writers like Oscar Wilde and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, she also sat for several established painters including Frank Miles, John Everett Millais, Edward Burne-Jones, William Powell Frith and George Frederic Watts, who was a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in the 1800s. Both Frank Miles and his friend Oscar Wilde idolised Langtry. “I with my pencil and Oscar with his pen will make you the most famous beauty of the age,” Miles told her.

"The Dean's Daughter [Lily Langtry]" (1879-80) by George Frederic Watts RP (1817-1904), Oil on canvas – NFS

Many women throughout art history have occupied the role of the muse. Emilie Louise Flöge appears throughout Gustav Klimt’s work, most famously in his 1908 magnum opus ‘The Kiss’. While Pablo Picasso, a notorious womanizer, had several muses throughout his career, including Dora Maar, a surrealist photographer and left-wing activist who is said to have influenced him to paint ‘Guernica’.

As glamorous as the role of the muse might seem on the surface, it has also been a tool of female oppression. Women have been largely written out of art history, often finding themselves relegated to the role of the muse, despite being talented creators in their own right. Even successful artists, such as Georgia O’Keeffe, who managed to break through were said to have done so because of the men in their lives. While it was seen as daring for Frida Kahlo to say, “I am my own muse.”

Historically, visual representations of women have been created predominantly by and for men. “Men look at women; women watch themselves being looked at,” said John Berger in his groundbreaking TV series Ways of Seeing (1972). Now known as “the male gaze”, this idea was originally theorised by Laura Mulvey in her landmark 1975 essay, ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ which laid claim to the fact that images of women are largely created to please a male viewer, positioning them as an “object” of heterosexual male desire.

Since the rise of the feminist movement, women have successfully challenged sexism in the art world and broken down barriers. Female artists like Judy Chicago, Carolee Schneemann, Barbara Kruger and Jenny Holzer were once scandalised and shunned as much as they are now celebrated and immortalised. And yet, gender imbalances remain steadfast. In 1989, the Guerilla Girls drew attention to the fact that less than 5% of the works in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) were by female artists, while 85% of the nudes were female. Twenty years later, things have improved, but only marginally. In their latest 2015 campaign, the Guerilla Girls revealed that galleries that once showed 10% are only up to 20%, while New York museums that previously gave no women artists a solo exhibition, gave just one single woman a solo show in 2015.

"Nude with a Book" by Anthony Connolly RP, Oil, 140 x 140 cm, NFS

Furthermore, sexualised images of women are still ubiquitous across media and society and thus an image of a naked female body remains “nothing but controversial” as academic and activist Dr. Victoria Bateman wrote in the Guardian. Whether it is Instagram’s selective banning of female anatomy parts (but not men's) or petitions against galleries (including the MET and Manchester Art Gallery) to remove “voyeuristic” works, the female nude remains a point of contention. “In modern society, a naked woman is associated with one thing alone: sex,” states Bateman. “This single-minded way of looking at nudity isn’t healthy – certainly not for women.”

A selection of works at this year’s Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition are challenging these notions. A nude portrait of Dr. Bateman by Anthony Connolly RP depicts the academic reclined in a relaxed pose reading. Bateman insists that, while it was painted by a man, it was she who initiated and commissioned the piece, and so, "the model took charge." With this work, Bateman aims to demonstrate that a nude woman can also be an intelligent one, not simply a sexual object. “It is intellectually elitist, hypocritical and unfair that women who monetise their brains are celebrated and looked up to, whilst women who do the same with their bodies are denigrated and spoken down to.” Bateman argues. “Feminism cannot seek to achieve equality for only one group of women.”

This is the second time that Bateman’s portrait has been exhibited at Mall Galleries. In 2014, she debuted a similar nude portrait by the same artist, which was met with much controversy. Since then, she has continued to carry out naked protests throughout the media, “to challenge the way women are judged, to fight for greater bodily autonomy for women (from birth control rights), and to protest Brexit.”

'Untitled (Portrait of My Girlfriend) by Sarah Jane Moon, Oil, 154 x 114 cm, £5,600

Elsewhere in the exhibition, Sarah Jane Moon’s portrait of her girlfriend is an ode to female power. This piece is part of an ongoing investigation by the artist to paint the female nude, “a genre loaded with patriarchal associations,” through a queer lens and in a way that is “commanding, self-possessed and unapologetic.” The subject is topless, but deliberately dressed in jeans – a traditionally masculine material – provoking the question, “is she half undressed or half dressed?” The pose was chosen to convey “strength and openness” and taken from a low vantage point to place the viewer in a less dominant position. Moon explains that the portrait is also a depiction of a same-sex relationship: “The attributes I find attractive in her and wanted to celebrate are strength, steadiness and openness rather than qualities that might have traditionally been associated with feminine beauty such as being passive, meek & delicate.”

In painting ‘Alicia’, one of Hannah Murray’s main concerns was challenging the voyeuristic potential within such imagery. “I strive for my subject to confront the viewer with a raw honesty and allow them to reflect on their feelings towards the female form, revealing flesh more as a matter of fact than an eroticised fantasy,” says Murray.

'Alicia' by Hannah Murray, Oil, 50 x 30 cm, £5,000

One of the most striking paintings in this year’s exhibition is a self-portrait by cancer survivor Leslie Watts in which the artist depicts herself post-mastectomy, bandaged with one breast. “Painting myself in this stance was meant to show that I still owned my body, despite the fact that it had broken down,” Leslie explains. “This is all I am: my body and my paintbrush. I have other scars too: Caesarean sections, mole excisions.” Cancer is a traumatic experience for the mind as much as the body, and yet the artist appears comfortable in her own skin. The cone highlights Watts's vulnerability, but her expression reveals that she is not owned by it. “It could be merely sad, but I decided to wear the veterinary collar to show that I could still laugh about it.”

This week, Facebook removed an image of Watts’ painting from our page deeming it inappropriate. Watts finds it bizarre that anyone would find this portrait in any way carnal: “If anyone looked at this and found it sexually provocative, I’d be amazed. I’m a post-menopausal woman with one breast. This is not about anything except dealing with a scary event in a very personal way: please take a good look. This is my reality.”

In the midst of #MeToo and a surging fourth wave of feminism, the idea of the muse is one that is being called into question. Is there such a thing as a “quintessential muse”? Who gets to be a muse in the 21st century? Join us for a panel discussion on Saturday, 18 May in which we will discuss these questions and much more. 

Lillie Langtry, Model and Muse will take place at 2pm on 18 May in the Main Gallery. 

'Self-Portrait with Tarnished Jug' by Leslie Watts, Egg tempera, 66 x 46 cm – NFS


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The Royal Society of Portrait Painters 2019 Exhibition: Award Winners

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Introducing the award winners from this year's Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition.

There is a phenomenal level of skill and artistry to behold at this year's Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition, which boasts some 200 works of contemporary portraiture from an international roster of artists. Seven talented painters were awarded prizes today (8 May), announced at the Private View by the Society's President Richard Foster who applauded the winners' commitment and flair. Find out more about the commended artists below.

Joe with Tattoos by David Caldwell RP

David Caldwell RP, Winner of The Smallwood Architects Prize

Direct engagement with his sitters is a key component to Caldwell's work. “A portrait is not only about achieving a likeness but also about capturing the sitter’s individual energetic presence,” says the artist.

Through his paintings, he aims to translate his “experience of looking.” Caldwell explains, “I want my paintings to suggest the sensation of stereoscopic vision, as the camera lens cannot, and to amalgamate the layers of looking - indeed the layers of time - into one image. Ultimately I would like my work to express the sensation of having been there, of having stood in my shoes.”


The Engineer by Joshua Waterhouse

Joshua Waterhouse, Winner of The de Laszlo Foundation Award

Born in Newcastle in 1989, Waterhouse is a hyperrealist artist living and working in London. Despite the contemporary feel of his work, the artist draws much of his inspiration from artists of the Northern Renaissance. He paints with oil on wood panel in a highly meticulous fashion to create portraits with a heightened sense of realism.

Though the face remains the focus of his work, Waterhouse gives equal consideration to the environment of his sitter. The artist often amplifies the narrative of a subject’s life through still life elements in the composition, as seen here in this award-winning portrait of Jack Stanger, a retired aeronautical engineer. Commissioned by the Stanger family, the painting depicts its subject tinkering with a grasshopper escapement clock he made from scratch, surrounded by the paraphernalia of an engineer’s workshop. The unusual silhouette in the background is a nod to the engineer’s involvement in Concorde during his career. 


Rose at Houghton by Phoebe Dickinson 

Phoebe Dickinson, Winner of Burke's Peerage Foundation Award for Classically Inspired Portraiture

Born in 1984, Chelsea-based painter Phoebe Dickinson trained at London Fine Art Studios and was among the 48 selected to exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery for last year’s BP Portrait Award.

Dickinson’s lush painting depicts Rose Hanbury, the Marchioness of Cholmondeley wearing her antique Turkish kaftan in the opulent surroundings of Houghton Hall’s tapestry room. “I wanted to create a large predominantly dark portrait that showed off the scale and grandeur of the room but also the luminosity of her English rose skin,” Dickinson explains.


Preoccupied with Something by Yun Meng

Yun Meng, Winner of the Contemporary Arts Trust Award

Chinese artist Yun Meng is fascinated by the relationship between the skin, colour and the space of the sitter in a specific environment at that time – as demonstrated here in this multi-textured work. Through painting, the artist expresses the complex emotions and spiritual world of the characters.

Judith Kellerman, Trustee of the Contemporary Arts Trust said, "Yun Meng's painting revealed a lovely portrait of the subject which captured light, feeling and natural expression. Moreover, the skin tone and the figures were beautifully painted. The award, in memory of my daughter Alice Batkin, is given to convey how art appreciation and painting (and other mediums) can encourage expression and creativity in everyone.” 


Tom by James Hague RP

James Hague RP, Winner of The RP Award (on the theme of 'Skin')

Born in Nottingham in 1970, Hague studied Fine Art at The University of Northumbria at Newcastle and now lives between East London and Copenhagen. Hague paints his subjects in a luminescent, bug-eyed style that is reminiscent of some of Lucian Freud’s early work. The artist generally works from life, producing a series of drawings or photographs over 3 to 6 sittings which he later works on from his studio.


Executive Chef by Peter Kuhfeld RP NEAC

Peter Kuhfeld RP NEAC, Winner of The Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture

Born in Cheltenham in 1952, Kuhfeld is the only child of a German prisoner of war and an English classical pianist. The painter studied art at Leicester Polytechnic followed by a brief period teaching at Rugby School of Art, before studying at the Royal Academy Schools under Peter Greenham RA.

In 2012, Kuhfeld was commissioned by HRH The Prince of Wales to paint the royal wedding of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. Prince Charles has been a patron of his and Kuhfeld painted portraits of Prince William and Prince Harry in 1986.

Esther by Robbie Wraith RP

Robbie Wraith RP, Winner of The Prince of Wales's Award for Portrait Drawing

Wraith left school at 16 to study painting in Florence at the invitation of Pietro Annigoni, an Italian portrait and fresco painter, best known for his portraits of Queen Elizabeth II. Over the course of his career, he has had over thirty exhibitions across Britain, Europe, America and China. Wraith has painted a long list of distinguished portrait sitters, including everyone from HM The Queen to Nelson Mandela. He has work in the private collection of HM The Queen, HRH The Prince of Wales, the Royal Collection Windsor, The Vatican, Oxford and Cambridge Universities and many more. 

The Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition is on view at Mall Galleries, 9-24 May. 


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The Engineer by Joshua Waterhouse

Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year 2019


Caroline Kenyon, Founder of the Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year, discusses the unifying power of food photography in troubled times.

Food is full of contradictions. Of course, we need it to survive, but it can also hold greater meaning whether it be political, religious, aspirational or symbolic. It offers a portal into the rituals, celebrations and struggles of others. Food tells stories about the way we live.

From the communal and the spiritual to the political and the commercial, it’s all here at the Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year 2019. For Caroline Kenyon, Founder of the Awards, it is the unifying power of food that is most important. "We all know we are living in a fractious, angry world at the moment, when public discourse is aggressive and divisive, seeking to set groups of people against each other," says Kenyon. "These awards set their face against that divisiveness and this year, we have shown that to a degree that makes me so proud.”

'Cauldron Noodles' by Jianhui Liao, Winner of the Food for Celebration Category

The idea to create the awards first came to Kenyon some eight years ago in the middle of the night, though it was a culmination of experiences which led to that point: “It was the coming together of years of a love for photography, editing a travel magazine, photographer’s portfolio, running a PR agency specialising in food, commissioning food photographers and my son, then aged 12, becoming passionate about photography.” She was particularly inspired by a visit to Wildlife Photographer of the Year, which presented a model of how such an exhibition might work, “in terms of scale, range and subject matter.”

'Always Have A Camera In My Hands' by Lily-Mae Franklin, Winner of the Young 15-17-year-olds Category

Kenyon ascertains that diversity amongst the judges is crucial to achieving such a balance. “I always look for a real range of experience, from top chefs who produce their own cookery books to creative directors, food retailers, people who are embroiled with food and photography on a daily basis.” This year’s panel, chaired by food photographer David Loftus, includes Claire Hyman, British Photography – The Hyman Collection, culinary superstar Alice Waters, Lucy Pike, Head of Pictures at WeTransfer, His Excellency Ali Bin Thalith and Secretary General, HIPA.

'Bonda Tribe' by Sanghamitra Sarkar (India), Winner of the Food for the Family Category

With over 9,000 images entered from 77 countries, the judges had a huge pool of talent to choose from and the result is a truly multicultural show. Walking through the gallery one can take a trip across the world, stumbling upon a lunar celebration in China, a Bangladeshi woman collecting water or a tribal family in India preparing food in a clay pot. "Wherever we live, whoever we are, rich or poor, urban or rural, powerful or powerless," says Kenyon, "we are united by food, by the need to eat, by food as community, as celebration. These pictures show that as an inescapable, powerful truth – ultimately, we are all the same."

'Harvesting Gold' by Kazi Mushfiq, Winner of Bring Home the Harvest Category

Find out more about the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year here


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