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.

Society of Wildlife Artists Prize Winners 2019


The Natural Eye showcases the very best of fine art inspired by the natural world. As such, the Society of Wildlife Artists recognises the best of the best with a series of prizes for a range of specialisms within the field.

The following works were awarded prizes at the Private View of the exhibition on Wednesday 23 October. 

Ben Woodhams SWLA Tufted Ducks on icy water, January, Ronne

Winner of the Birdwatch / Swarovski Artist of the Year Award

Nik Pollard SWLA Winner of the RSPB Award

Wynona Legg for her body of work in the exhibition

Winner of the Larson-Juhl Award

Work shown: Feeding time at the Gullery

Robert Gillmor PPSWLA Avocet and chicks

Winner of the Birdscapes Gallery 'Conservation through Art' Award

Jane Smith SWLA Under water Gannets

Winner of the Mascot Media 'Nature in Print' Award

Lisa Hooper Caerlaverock

Winner of the Dry Red Press Award

Esther Tyson SWLA for her body of work in the exhibition

Winner of The Terravesta Prize

Work shown: Day two, second fledged

The Natural Eye continues at Mall Galleries until Sunday 3 November.

Plan your visit now or if you can't make it to the exhibition, discover the work online now.

Apply now for The John Busby Seabird Drawing Course Bursaries 2020

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Ben Woodhams SWLA Tufted Ducks on icy water, January, Ronne

Painting in Watercolours with the RSMA


The medium of watercolour features heavily in this year's Royal Society of Marine Artists Annual Exhibition. Below we hear from some of the artists about the merits and challenges of painting in watercolours.

The history of watercolours has a long British legacy, particularly in marine painting given JMW Turner's association with the medium. More recent innovators include David Hockney, who has championed the spontaneity of the medium. He said, "With watercolour, you can't cover up the marks. There's the story of the construction of the picture, and then the picture might tell another story as well." As such, the fluidity of watercolours is perfect for depicting water itself, evoking the rhythm of moving tides and windswept coastlines.

Geoff Hunt PPRSMA, A Pub on the Tideway (The 'Prospect of Whitby'), 51 x 43 cm - £875

Geoff Hunt PPRSMA

I enjoy the medium for its immediacy, the sense of momentary magic when a bit of watercolour appears to go right, counterbalanced by the many hours of misery when you know it’s all gone wrong. It is a medium of emotional extremes. That and the luminosity is what attracts me to watercolours. 

This was painted entirely on the spot one very pleasant late August afternoon, mainly as a reaction to the airy and spacious atmosphere. Dark notes of the foreground structures set off the brightness of the distance, feathery willow leaves just suggesting the gentle breeze.

Diana Boanas, Pedn Vounder Rock Pool, 56 x 74 cm - £600

Diana Boanas

Watercolour has a unique translucency which offers itself to the painting of water. Leaving the unpainted white of the paper creates intense highlights which are perfect for illustrating the light on water and its reflected shadows, so abundant in marine scenes. Watercolour has a reputation for being insipid, which is far from the case: with beautiful rich colours, you can be bold and dramatic. Water surfaces and underwater scenes contain interactions of hard and soft lines describing the movement and watercolour lends itself perfectly to this. What better way to depict water than to use it with expression and fluidity as a painting medium.

Keith Morton, Orange Boat 44 x 55 cm - £390

Keith Morton 

Two aspects of watercolour particularly attract me. The transparency, the ability to keep adding strength to a colour until I’m happy with the tone. And the freshness that comes with watercolour painting not being an entirely predictable process. 

I find that the most difficult aspect of painting marine scenes is drawing boats accurately without overworking them. In this painting, my lack of practise with a Chinese brush helped to stop the line-work from becoming too laboured.

I noticed this scene while on a day’s sketching at Woolwich Reach, and managed to get a few snaps of the area before getting moved on ‘for my own protection’. What then inspired me to paint the picture was the design opportunity of using one large image to dominate the painting.

Andrew Dibben, Sheringham West Slipway, 58 x 77 cm - £895

Andrew Dibben

I like the portability of watercolour equipment, and the way that a painting made on location can be safely transported straight away without risk of smudging. The medium is equally good for work which takes longer to complete, such as in the studio. Watercolour is exceptionally good for the rendition of fine detail, such as in the flaking paint and decaying wood which I have often depicted. The colours can have remarkable intensity, and also great luminosity from the light reflecting off the white paper, back through the applied wash of colour.

This particular subject is one that I am very familiar with, and have painted Sheringham West Slipway a number of times over a 30 year period, from various angles. Although I have painted in situ here on occasion, this was a studio painting, based on a series of photographs taken on one particular day. I went to the location knowing that long shadows are cast by the boats on the slipway in mid-afternoon, and hoping that the boats would be arranged in an interesting way on the day.

I worked from one main photo but used elements of others to produce a more interesting painting. I chose to use a half-sheet of watercolour paper, which is 38 x 56 cm, or 15 by 22 inches. This gives a reasonable amount of room for detail while remaining relatively easy to control. Large washes in a bigger work can be challenging. Working in the studio allows one to depict greater detail and more accuracy than when working on location, but there is a risk of the result looking a bit "dead" if one works on it for too long. But it is nice to be able to work in the studio at times since our weather is a little unpredictable - and cold at times!

Alan Runagall RSMA, 'Melissa' at Pin Mill, 47 x 57 cm -  £725

Alan Runagall RSMA

Although the boats in my paintings are usually the main interest and focal point, I consider that the painting should work as a whole and should be a complete work of art without any boats. For this reason the sky, for me, is the most important part of the painting. I usually try to paint the sky in one wash and carry this wash down to the bottom of the paper. I find that this gives a harmony of colour to my paintings.

Although I did experiment with oils in my early years, I always preferred painting in watercolour as it is such a clean and unmessy medium. After your painting is finished it can be popped in your bag or rucksack without getting spoilt. Your palette can be washed down with water and off home you can go with no more fuss. Also I do like to paint quickly and I find I'm able to capture those fleeting glimpses of light in watercolour, which can lift a painting. Another bonus with watercolour is that sometimes a piece of ‘magic’ happens to the painting which was not planned. This can be quite exciting and can enhance your painting too.

I have always loved the Thames Barge since I was a lad when I watched them sailing up the river Roach to Stambridge Mills with their cargo of grain. As such, I find Pin Mill, on the River Orwell, a very inspiring place to paint. It is important to work out a good composition at the start, but in this case, after a short walkabout, the composition chose itself with little change required by me. I find that Saunders Waterford paper suits my style of painting and I normally work on quarter imperial (15” x 11”) outdoors. After washing in the sky and then overpainting the firm sandy river bed, I worked from the distant shore to the vessel on the left before going back to paint my focal point of s.b. ‘Melissa’. I like to leave the most exciting part of the painting until the end. It is often the last 10 minutes of working that pulls the painting together.

Deborah Walker RSMA RI, Sunlight and Shadows, 100 x 110 cm - £3,600

Deborah Walker RSMA RI

I'm drawn to the medium of watercolour by its technical complexity, its freshness, subtlety and luminosity. Watercolour is difficult. While the paint is wet it is alive, it moves and changes position in a way that other painting mediums don't. With a fascination for alchemy, the challenge continues.

In terms of watercolour, when faced with an expanse of essentially blue sea and sky, I try to find just one blue that will be suitable for both. This blue must have the subtlety to deliver the delicate shades in the sky, while also possessing the body and depth to achieve the rich tonalities found in the water. I then look for mixing colours that will offer the many variances of the sea and sky, to move the blue towards both purple and green and also shades of grey.

I was inspired to paint Old Harry Rocks, depicted in 'Sunlight and Shadows', by the challenge to paint the rock as negative space. In watercolour your lightest light is the white of the paper, therefore in painting the white rock, you are literally painting everything apart from the rock itself. You are painting everything around it, above and below it, only giving structure to it by painting the shadows cast across it. The white rock is the white of the paper.

In some of my larger paintings, having researched the subject, I often write lines of text, poetry and prose, using watercolour and a dip pen. These outline the history, the geographical and geological detail, along with lines of poetry that add to my sense of the place.  The words written in 'Sunlight and Shadows' are a distillation of the paragraph below:

"Old Harry Rocks is a name given to a chalk stack found below the cliffs at Ballard, east of Studland, marking the eastern end of the Jurassic Coast. There are two stories regarding the naming of the rocks. The name ‘Harry’ or ‘Old Harry’ were once familiar names for the devil, like the old saying, ‘to play Old Harry’ which means ’to ruin or destroy’. He is said to have taken a nap on the rocks! The other explanation links the name to the infamous pirate Harry Paye, who used to store his contraband nearby and use the rocks to lie in wait for passing ships. Either way, Old Harry Rocks were so-called as a warning to keep shipping well clear! The blinding sunlight reflecting off the chalk, modelled by softly contrasting shadows give shape and form to the cliffs."

“...for let the form of an object be what it may, - light, shade and perspective will always make it beautiful.” – John Constable

The Royal Society of Marine Artists Annual Exhibition is on view 10 to 19 October. 

Browse the Exhibition Online

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Deborah Walker RSMA RI

Around the World with the RSMA –  Interactive Map


Given their love of all things maritime, the Royal Society of Marine Artists often seek out and find amazing hidden coastal gems around the UK and beyond. In this year's exhibition, the artists have explored a plethora of remote islands, tiny coastal towns, secret paths, jagged cliffs and choppy harbours.

James Bartholomew RSMA, Sun & Sea Mist, Dingle, Watercolour & pastel, 44 x 55 cm - £750 

1. Dingle, Ireland – James Bartholomew RSMA

James Bartholomew produced this painting during his first trip to Dingle in 2017, a small, secluded town located on the most westerly tip of Ireland, after which there is nothing but the great expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. “I always think it’s worth going out of your way to find great subject matter, “ Bartholomew says, “Making that extra effort usually pays dividends when you find a richer seam.”

Bartholomew uses the internet to seek out good painting locations – “bright light, big waves”. He had initially intended to go to Hawaii but upon discovering a forecast for 15+ ft swells in Dingle with intermittent sun, he changed course.

What does he like about Dingle? “The wildness. When you get to the far reaches of the land, where I usually head, you generally have the place to yourself, especially in wild conditions. The weather here is more extreme, high winds etc, and when you position yourself close to waves of this scale, it’s quite exhilarating. The coastline here is as dramatic as it is beautiful. They also do an awesome pint of Guinness!”

Brian Fleming ARSMA, Men Sorting Fishnets, Essaouira, Morocco, 45 x 68 cm - £2,000

2. Essaouira, Morocco – Brian Fleming ARSMA

Brian Fleming has been visiting Morocco every year since 2007 and the coastal city of Essaouira since 2009. Having travelled extensively across the country via train, bus and car, Fleming confirms Morocco is “a very vibrant, friendly and exciting country.”

Brian has been painting scenes of the fishing port in Essaouira for many years, fascinated by the constant activity that takes place there, from the fishing boats to repairing and building larger boats and the market selling fish. The artist explains, “I was particularly interested in this scene because of the vast quantities of netting and floats being sorted out. Also the relationship of the four men in the composition. The strong sunlight gives a sharpness and clarity to the image.”

Kim Jarvis, Iona, Jewel of the Sea, Oil, 75 x 95 cm - £1,950

3. Iona, Scotland – Kim Jarvis

The Scottish island of Iona has a rich history and is an island of extreme beauty, says Kim Jarvis. “It is where St. Columba brought Christianity to Scotland from Ireland in the 6th Century. There is an ancient abbey and church and a small resident community as well as many visitors from around the world on pilgrimage. The beauty of colour and its history makes it quite simply my favourite place to paint.”

Jarvis has been visiting the island of Iona for 20 years, making the trip approximately every two years. “Although I live in Gloucestershire, I spend about 6 weeks a year in the West of Scotland including the islands,” she explains. Having originally visited Iona as a tourist, she fell in love with its “spirit and beauty”. 

“This beach at the north end of the island has incredibly clear light. The colours and shapes of the rocks offer perfect structures to balance with the unusual white sand of the island. On this beach, in particular, the views are of more islands and also the mountains of Mull beyond. So, there is much interest in the foreground and the eye is also drawn to distant beaches and horizons, offering constant opportunities for making visual stories.”

Neil Faulkner RSMA, Plane Tree, Amalfi Coast, 60 x 77 cm - £1,500

4. Amalfi, Italy – Neil Faulkner RSMA

Neil Faulkner had always wanted to visit the Amalfi Coast, having seen pictures of its beautiful coastline and steep-sided cliffs surrounding its many little villages and towns. After holidaying there a few years ago, he has continued to return every year since.

“Light and colour is always an important feature in my paintings, dazzling water dancing around moored boats bobbing on an ultramarine sea. This was a strong inspiration for me to want to paint this mid-morning picture.”

“Amalfi is the most inspiring place for an artist, offering high vantage point compositions, wonderful light and fabulous colours. The harbour comes alive each morning with an array of vessels taking tourists to must-see places along the coast.”

Robert Brindley RSMA, Choppy Water, Istanbul Harbour, 43 x 51 cm - £700

5. Istanbul Harbour, Turkey – Robert Brindley RSMA

This was Robert Brindley’s first visit to Turkey’s capital city. He shares, “We had heard that Istanbul was a magical place where East meets West and that in some parts of the city, time has almost stood still.” He was inspired by Edward Seago, one of his favourite artists, to paint the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. “I just loved the hazy light and atmosphere. The numerous ferries and fishing boats plying their trade also attracted me to the subject,” he recalls.

Tim Wootton SWLA, Every Cloud: Yesnaby, Orkney, 56 x 80 cm - £1,250

6. Orkney, Scotland – Tim Wootton SWLA

In 2002, Tim Wootton visited Orkney to film a small farm on the island of Shapinsay. Upon returning to Yorkshire with the video footage, he and his family soon relocated to Orkney later that year. “We have since moved around the county a couple of times but have found the place absolutely inspiring, as a landscape and wildlife artist,” Wootton says.

“On this particular morning, the county was cloaked in fog. As I walked along the harbour front, the sunlight started to penetrate through the fog; slivers of light percolating through the weight of the atmosphere.” His aim with this painting was to “create an almost surreal sense of perspective; heightening the feeling of distance in the scene.” Tim was enchanted by “the weight of water-laden air combined with the lightness of the shafts of light illuminating the brighter elements in the work.” 

Paul Banning RSMA RI, The Road to Point Radix, Watercolour, 60 x 77 cm - £1,500

7. Trinidad – Paul Banning RSMA RI

Paul Banning was born in Trinidad and has returned regularly in recent years to paint and "capture the various characteristics of the Island that I grew up in". This path is on the East coast of Trinidad and where little development has occurred, so life is more like it was back in the 1950s, says Banning. "What I loved about this scene was its serenity, though it can become busier at weekends, with many more cars parked and people enjoying the sea as well as picnicking on the beach."

According to the artist, Trinidad has changed considerably over the years since gaining its independence. "Many of the places I used to go to have become very crowded and commercialised – what commonly is known as progress!"


Discover More Coastal Destinations Explored by the RSMA

The Royal Society of Marine Artists Annual Exhibition runs at Mall Galleries from 10 to 19 October.

Browse & Buy the Exhibition Online


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Kim Jarvis, Iona

Royal Society of Marine Artists Prize Winners 2019


As the focal point for much of Britain's finest contemporary marine art, the Royal Society of Marine Artists' Annual Exhibition recognises the best of the best with a series of prizes and awards for a range of specialisms within the field.

The following works were awarded prizes at the Private View of the exhibition on Wednesday 9 October. 

Matthew Draper PS Nocturne with a Polluted Light (Part VI), Winner of The Baltic Exchange Award


Deborah Walker RSMA RI Sunlight and Shadows, Winner of The Kenneth Denton Award


Geoffrey Huband RSMA Chimera, Winner of The Derek Gardner Award


Andrzej Szymczyk Seahorse, Winner of The RSMA New Generation Award


Benjamin Mowll PRSMA Dawn Light, Venice, Winner of The RSMA Award for the Best Small Painting

Tony Allain PS Low Water, Porthleven, Winner of The Charles Pears Award (£500)

Brian Fleming ARSMA, Winner of The Artist Magazine Award


Brian Smith Unloading, Winner of The R K Burt Paper Prize


Tim Hall RSMA Butterfly, Rose of Argyll, Mousehole, The Classic Boat Award

Neil Faulkner RSMA Offloading, Tenby Harbour, Winner of Murray's Commercial Fishing Award (£500)

Claire Wiltsher Time Collector VI, Winner of The Russell and Chapple Canvas Prize

Tony Williams ARSMA Swinging a Plate, Winner of the Topbond Marine Award


Tom Marsh Early Morning - Hastings Fishing Fleet, Winner of the Winsor & Newton Oil Prize


Simon Conolly A Day at the Seaside, Winner of the Sea Pictures Gallery Award

Discover the RSMA 2019 Exhibition online


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Matthew Draper PS Nocturne with a Polluted Light (Part VI)

At Sea: Lifeboats of the RNLI by the Royal Society of Marine Artists

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By Liberty Rowley, Marketing Manager

I grew up land-locked, but through watching Blue Peter, I have long been aware of the impressive heroism of Lifeboat crews. It seemed, as a child that Sea Rescue services were entirely funded by small children collecting milk bottle tops and posting them into Valerie Singleton/Yvette Fielding/Anthea Turner/Konnie Huq (depending on your age). As an adult, it is even more amazing when you realise that the RNLI is indeed entirely funded by donations and staffed by volunteers. No wonder they are a regular inspiration for the Royal Society of Marine Artists.

Below are works from this year’s Royal Society of Marine Artists Annual Exhibition that pay tribute to the Institution that has saved some 140,000 lives since it was founded in 1824.

C David Gillingwater isn’t just a talented painter, he is also a Lifeboat volunteer himself. On Reflection is part of his project to paint portraits of each of his 25 Lifeboat colleagues. He explains “On Reflection is representative of the time when a crew member returns from a 'Shout'. This crew member, James Cable, is exhausted. His lifejacket open to show completion of the rescue and a coffee cup balanced precariously, representing the lives of Lifeboat crew past and present. As a crew member myself of 21 years I know this look all too well.”

C David Gillingwater On Reflection Oil 112 x 112 cm £2,750

Peter Barker RSMA is slightly less hands-on and closer to my own TV watching experience. “I don’t spend much time out at sea” he says “I live in land-locked Rutland, and generally only paint looking out to sea, but I have immense admiration for the brave souls who risk their lives, for no monetary reward, to save others in peril. That feeling is always heightened when there is a programme on the telly about the Penlee Lifeboat disaster of December 1981, when all 8 crew members were lost on the Solomon Browne, a 47ft wooden Watson class motor lifeboat, when they went out in hurricane conditions to the aid of a mini-bulk carrier, the Union Star.”

Peter Barker RSMA Leaving St Mary's, Isles of Scilly Oil, 45 x 77 cm, £2,150

“My partner Jane and I had a lovely few days on the Scilly Isles last September, and when we left for the mainland, it was overcast with a hint of yellow in the clear bit of greenish sky near the horizon. The sea was a little choppy, and the bright orange/navy livery of the Lifeboat shone out as a lovely subject against the grey backdrop, so I took a couple of photos and composed the painting back in the studio. Without the Lifeboat, the scene would have been uninspiring, but that bit of colour was perfect to enlighten the otherwise dull and boring vista.”

With a much more personal connection to the Penlee Lifeboat Disaster is Geoffrey Huband RSMA:

“Since the age of sixteen, The Solomon Browne was an interest very close to my heart. One of my dearest friends Johnny Drew, was full-time motor mechanic of The Solomon Browne and he had served on two previous lifeboats stationed at Mousehole, The Brothers and The W & S. The Solomon Browne was his pride and joy and I spent many happy hours in the company of Johnny learning all about the boat and polishing and cleaning her in readiness for her next service. Over time I occasionally worked in the Slip Crew and on several occasions went out on a summertime service. These were known as Medico’s and involved taking injured crew members ashore to the local hospital.

Johnny Drew retired 48 years ago in 1971 and my close relationship to the lifeboat came to an end, however, I always followed its activities with great interest. In the late summer of 1981, I painted a major picture of the annual blessing of the lifeboat in Mousehole Harbour. The painting Village Anniversary was on exhibition with the Royal Institute of Oil Painters and was transferred to the London Boat Show following the loss of the lifeboat. This was a tragedy which stunned the village of Mousehole and the surrounding community and resonates to the present day.

Geoffrey Huband RSMA Village Anniversary

"I felt at the time unable to continue exhibiting what was a joyous painting of a ceremony at the heart of the village. However, two years later I was persuaded to exhibit Village Anniversary in my studio in Mousehole, I did so with some trepidation but happily, the picture was well received and created great interest in the community. The painting was sold to the American architect Stuart Dawson who was responsible for designing the Waterfront in Boston USA.

It was with similar trepidation, that I decided that I wished to pay tribute to both The Solomon Browne and the sacrifice of her crew, who were ordinary men doing extraordinary things."

Geoffrey Huband RSMA The Solomon Browne, 19 December 1981 Oil, 81 x 107 cm, £4,000

"I remember the night of the loss of The Solomon Browne as if it were only yesterday. The weather was, without doubt, the worst I have ever known in the 50 years that Cornwall has been my home. I had been cast in the role of Father Christmas at a children’s Christmas party at a hotel on the promenade at Penzance. I distinctly remember tightly holding on to young children who were in danger of being blown away as we attempted to cross the carpark in hurricane-force winds. On arrival home late that evening, the news broke that a lifeboat was believed lost off Land’s End. We all knew this could only be The Solomon Browne, the next morning confirmed our worst fears.

The painting of the last service of The Solomon Browne had been in my mind for 48 years and I felt that the only way to do justice to the incredible sacrifice was to paint the picture as I imagined it of the last moments of the attempted rescue. It was reported that the lifeboat was deliberately steered on to the deck of the stricken vessel Union Star in order to take off the few remaining crew that were left on board. This was the last act of a brave crew and heroic lifeboat.

Depicting the scene was a painful experience, as is speaking of it or writing about it, even after so many years. I hope my depiction conveys both the elements of horror and sacrifice adequately.”

Lorraine Abraham RSMA visited the Gloucester Tall Ships Festival looking for inspiration for a piece for the Annual Exhibition and, she says “I was not disappointed!

Lorraine Abraham RSMA Tall Ships Festival, Gloucester Scratchboard & ink, 44 x 54 cm, £850

“I chose this particular scene because the folds of the sails made a great visual impact on me. I thought them Classical in their neat formality. I spent several hours making a detailed drawing of them. All my work is based on my drawings and the abstract basis of how I use the picture surface. In this case, as I had decided on the sails as the main feature and focal point, it left me with two areas above and below. I used the upper part for the Historical Tall ships.

The lower part, I devoted to Severn Rescue. They had an important job to do and were very visible and active. There were not any disasters as far as I was aware - a big congratulation to Severn Rescue on patrol. Each patrol boat was a study in itself - a delight to draw and they exuded a confidence of being in control of whatever they could be called on to deal with.”

Greg Ramsden’s studio is next to the Lifeboat station and museum in Salcombe. “They are literally my next-door neighbours. The Lifeboat is always a part of my day, from the sounds of the lifeboat crews pagers beeping as they run down the street to answer another call out, to the wonderful sounds of Baltic Wharf’s powerful engines humming as it sets off.

“The Lifeboat sits in the glistening light in the harbour always attracting attention. It is a subject I’ve painted a few times as it is always a spectacle when the boat pulls out from its mooring and people come running to watch it embark on another mission. I have friends on the crew and also know the management well, even the CEO of the RNLI lives in Salcombe.

Greg Ramsden The Baltic Exchange Lifeboat Salcombe Oil, 35 x 40 cm, £550

“One of my Tutors (The Turner Prize nominee George Shaw) once told me a great thing ‘that you should paint what’s is in your backyard’. My 'backyard' is full of marine subjects from boatyards to people landing small crafts on the beaches. It’s the light around the subjects that I like to capture, the silhouette in strong contre-jour and each morning as I walk to my studio there is the Baltic Exchange waiting to be painted. The poetic nature of the boat and the brave work of the RNLI makes for a wonderful subject and I feel very lucky to be in such close quarters to it.”

The Royal Society of Marine Artists Annual Exhibition is on

view at Mall Galleries from 10 to 19 October

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Geoffrey Huband RSMA, The Solomon Browne, 19 December 1981

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