Mall Galleries news

Behind the Scenes at the ROI Hang

This week our In the Studio artists ventured behind the scenes at the hang of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters Annual Exhibition 2018. Find out what the young artists, and the ROI President and Vice President made of the visit.

'It was a great privilege to witness the behind the scenes of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters Annual Exhibition 2018 and then to attend the private view the following day', says Suzon Lagarde. 'I was particularly impressed by the amount of work done is such a short period of time. This helped me to better understand the need for size and framing regulations during the submission process. There's already enough diversity and potential difficulties surrounding everything that is to hang on the day. it simply wouldn't be practical to allow things like non-standard frames.'

'I was surprised to hear that most of the curation happens on the day. If I understand correctly, Tim Benson PROI NEAC had some guidelines (one space for the thematic work, one for the young artists, mixing member and non-member) but the rest of the decisions were made on the day. I would have thought a first draft would happen before, playing digitally with thumbnails of the artworks, or even with printed versions. This only reinforces how impressed I was that all that work could be done in such a short amount of time.' 

'My personal experience is of organising as much as possible beforehand, partly because we had to hang the work ourselves (which took a fair amount of time!). Previously I've created virtual models of a gallery and imported small jpegs of everyone's work so we were able to play with different layouts. On the day, we tweaked a few things because sometimes it feels better with such spontaneity, but it was very useful to have a base to start from. I was thinking, as the gallery space is the same from years to years, it could be a service offered in the future, to let societies use a virtual model of the space to play before hand with curation?'

'I really enjoyed the way everything was hung', continued Suzon; 'that pieces from one artist were often spaced out, but not too much, so you could still recognise similarities and come back to it. The theme around community was a brilliant idea, and I'm looking forward to seeing if the idea continues in future. Overall I'm really grateful for Tim and Adebanji's words, and felt really inspired by the visit.'

'I really enjoyed the atmosphere behind the scenes and how informal it was' says In the Studio artist Maddie Exton, 'just observing alone was really informative and interesting.' 'I'm in the process of setting up an interim show at Uni, so it was useful to see how professionals sort things out. I think we all felt really privileged to witness the hang and I'd love to attend more of that kind of event where we just learn through observation, which is invaluable. It was interesting to hear Tim talk about the divide between the traditional and contemporary art worlds, and to learn how much of the packing materials would be swept up and thrown away. The cardboard laid out on the floor and the big rolls of bubble wrap and film all seemed almost sculptural to me.'

'I wondered what kind of reaction there would be if the show was opened to the public at the stage we saw it - if the "hang" was actually just propping paintings up against the wall or lying them on the floor. I was also interested by the distinction between artist and technician - Mall Galleries Marketing Manager Liberty Rowley mentioned how some of the technicians had exhibited with her in the London Arts Board, and I think there's always a tension when artists are technicians/invigilators. It's interesting that an artist's day job can be hanging work and running errands for other artists.'

'Behind the scenes at the ROI exhibition reminded me of my degree show, but without the arguments over space' says participant Jyotsna Shelley. 'The mid-hang allowed us to see how people worked collectively in order to curate such a large exhibition. I would have preferred to see all the works unframed, as I believe that the frame is a distraction from the medium and texture of the paintings. It was incredibly enlightening and insightful to hear the Vice President and President of the ROI talk about how they first started as artists and what their real drive is. The discussion made me take an alternative approach to my practice. I’ve always had a habit of overthinking, without actually producing work. This then becomes a cycle. Tim Benson PROI NEAC and Adebanji Alade VPROI inspired me to make mistakes, discover opportunities, and take them by the horn. I was struck the sheer passion and motivation they had to draw and make work, and that it's never too late to do so.' 

'It would be greatly useful to have more discussions about the inclusivity and accessibility of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters. Overall, I greatly appreciated the visit and the opportunity to get a glimpse into the set-up of an exhibition.'

'It was a great experience to have members of the In the Studio project present at the hanging of our Annual Exhibition' says ROI President Tim Benson PROI NEAC. It was an opportunity for them to see how a major exhibition is hung, and also to hear the thoughts of ROI members. Further to this, it was really important for us to engage with them, as encouraging young artists like these is vital to the future of our organisation.'

Vice President Adebanji agreed: 'It was a great opportunity for us. I wish they asked more questions! It was a delight to answer the questions they asked. It really showed their enthusiasm and willingness to find out things, and get a few clarifications about the professional art world. A handful of them instantly followed me on Instagram and were raving about the inspiration they received. They were very grateful, and I think we found it important to reach out to this group too. It was a privilege for us, and I wish I'd had an opportunity like that in the early stages of my career.'

Find out more about In the Studio

In the Studio visits Philip James ROI

In the Studio's first event was a visit to the studio of Philip James ROI. Participant Jonathan Farningham shares this thoughts from the day, and Philip responds.

'It was a great to meet such an experienced and committed artist who has been working for years, and to get a glimpse of his life as an artist' says In the Studio participant Jonathan Farningham. 'I picked up a few tips; for example, he typically goes to sitters’ homes for portrait commissions, sometimes he works initially in pastel, so that he can later make a painting from this, otherwise he has developed a good memory and imagination for colour, which allows him to paint from drawings. I have had a studio for about a year, but it can be quite solitary, so being in another artist's studio is a reassuring experience.'

'Having spent fifty years at the easel, I agree it can sometimes be an isolated activity' says Philip James ROI, 'so it was great having a visit from a group of younger artists, and I hope they enjoyed the day. I think it's a really good idea of the Federation of British Artists to reach out to its member artists and encourage a conversation with people at the outset of their practice. We had an afternoon of interesting discussions, ranging from portraits and commissions to the ins and outs of dealing with the art world - more such art and education events please!'

Find out more about In the Studio


Image credit

Photography by Tedi Lena, Checka Levi Morenos and Jonathan Farningham

Day One of In the Studio

Hear from three of the artists how they found the first day of ‘In the Studio’, where all the participants came together to find out more about the project and get to know each other.

‘I had a really great day meeting the other young artists at our Introduction Day’ says Ramona Sharples. ‘I was struck by the diversity of backgrounds and current occupations in the room. I realised I had previously thought all artists followed the same route and that I was on the wrong one, but as it turns out there is no wrong route, which is comforting. By talking to people in the breaks and over a seriously delish lunch, I noticed that a lot of us had found university not as fulfilling as we’d hoped.’

‘Still, after hearing everyone’s stories of how they got to where they are now, some with degrees and others without, some educated in art and others not, what we all had in common was a perseverance and determination to continue being able to create. The need for creative willpower was also a key topic in the talk we were given from a member of the Society of Wildlife ArtistsChris Wallbank.’

‘They had recently been documenting the vast number of urban black kites living in cities in India. An unexpected feature of their project had been the incredible story of two brothers who had set up a home for the kites on their roof and as a result become leading specialists in treating wing injuries.’

‘The educational potential of art was stressed, which could be maximised if only art was taught in a more meaningful way at school, and not undervalued by society as a leisurely pursuit. It was also highlighted how few artists manage to actually live off of their practise. The more common story is of the artist who works full or part time and manages to put time aside to work in the studio or out in the field.’

‘It was a thoroughly enjoyable and thought provoking first day of the project. I was left ruminating that the most important traits of an artist are resilience, determination, and to be hard working. The other thing was the gap that needs to be filled by young minds in the decision-making driving education and the art industry, to prevent it veering in the wrong direction or stagnating. A gap the Mall Galleries is filling through this project.’

Fellow participant Suzon Lagarde says, ‘It was such a great day - so nice to get to meet everyone and have a glimpse of how exciting this project will be. It was all very inspiring, for two reasons mostly:’

‘I always find it great to see such diversity among peers, regarding everyone's practice and individual ways of considering and presenting ourselves. One could think that forming a group would polish individuality and encourage conformity, but I'm confident that such projects have the opposite effect, allowing everyone to be unique and supported.’

‘I also loved how much passion and friendliness I felt from everyone, and that's something so precious, as phrases like 'federation', 'mall galleries', and 'royal society' can be a bit daunting.  Thanks for making it all accessible!’

Mike Skeet says, ‘it's been a while since I was around so many creative minds! it was great meeting everyone.’

Events for ‘In the Studio’ will take place from November 2018 to July 2019, culminating in a Group Exhibition over the summer.

Find out more about In the Studio

John Busby Seabird Drawing Course Bursaries


The SWLA offers three bursaries for places on The John Busby Seabird Drawing Course. The next week-long course is to be held in June 2019 at seabird colonies around Dunbar and the Firth of Forth. This is a fantastic opportunity to work alongside around 20 established and enthusiastic artists, and get an insight into the diverse approaches that those artists have to working in the field.

Find out more and apply for the John Busby Seabird Drawing Course Bursary

Kittie Jones course tutor

"I have had the privilege of being involved in the John Busby Seabird Drawing Course since 2012 when it changed the direction of my work - opening my eyes to new possibilities and putting me in contact with an international group of like-minded people. I am now lucky enough to be on the tutor team, and I watch with interest each year as the students go through the week, experiencing the challenges and triumphs of working outdoors."

Every year the SWLA fundraises in order to provide bursary places for the course. This year, five diverse artists took part in the scheme, each on a different creative journey. Below, they outline some of their experiences of the week.


Adele Pound

"Fieldwork has always been important in my work, however before the course I was aware I had become stuck and lost abilities that I once had. Fieldwork calls for a specific set of skills: accessing and identifying birds, the logistics of deciding what kit to take, use of optics and strategies to deal with weather conditions. These were beyond the scope of my conventional fine art education. As a result, I had rarely met artists who use fieldwork in their practice and had essentially invented this for myself, working largely in isolation since graduating with inevitable limitations in what I could achieve.

The course really opened my eyes to what is possible in the field. The tutors and the other participants demonstrated to me throughout how much more ambitious I might be. I saw materials used that I would never have imagined taking into the field. I discovered I was able to cope with weather conditions I would not have attempted to work in if left to my own devices. The supportiveness, warmth and enthusiasm of the group helped me to engage with and enjoy the challenges. I was surprised by what I was able to achieve by the end of the week and by how much my thinking had changed.

The tutors were inspiring. Each brought different aspects and personalities and their passion and enthusiasm was always apparent. It was obvious that their overriding concern was for everyone to get as much as possible from the week. Despite the large size of the group, they were sensitive to the struggles of each individual. Several times I received just the advice I needed to help me progress, whether it was to try a different approach or to persevere with a drawing I had given up on. There was genuine delight whenever someone had a breakthrough."


Emily Ingrey-Counter

"One of the highlights for me was getting to know other artists and sharing our experiences at the end of each day. Naturally I discovered that in the emotional highs and lows of any given day I was certainly not alone. Although the prospect of sharing our work with the whole group was daunting, I found the feedback surprisingly encouraging.

Another highlight of the week was visiting the Bass Rock. The weather, winds and swells were in the right alignment as both groups were able to get access to the gannet colony for a whole day. A huge privilege. It was noisy, smelly, dirty and quite fantastic! I felt like I had landed on another planet, with 150,000 inhabitants tolerating our presence. Due to the wind, the birds were constantly in flight around us hovering, landing and taking off. We drew with intensity and focus for about seven hours. Amazing! The following day the swells were too strong to land on the island so we sketched from the boat for an hour - this was a great way to develop fast sketches, but challenging in terms of motion sickness!

The informal tutor guidance throughout the week was really helpful. I was reminded of some key elements that had been creeping out of my drawings - “keep a breathing space in your picture”, “what excites you about your chosen subject matter?” and “think about keeping the energy in your work”. Through many discussions with the tutors and artists on the course I was encouraged to value what I do, something that’s easy to lose sight of. I am really grateful to the SWLA for making this week possible. I hope the things I have learned will continue to echo through my work. It was such a privilege to meet so many people on this unique journey of making art inspired by our natural world."


Helen Kennedy

"I had come to the course with little seabird knowledge but great enthusiasm to learn. Both the tutors and my fellow course members were generous, not only with their extensive knowledge but also with lifts to the various locations we were to draw in. Equipment was freely shared. Never having used binoculars or scopes whilst drawing before this was particularly useful. I was able to draw on the wealth of experience around me. It was interesting to see the different approaches and working methods: what to take on long days field sketching; and how to work comfortably and efficiently in a range of weather conditions. The evening meal at the end of the day was a good time to share experiences, highs and lows. Seeing other people's work was a joy.

When I began the week I knew I wanted to understand more about seabirds. I hadn't anticipated how entranced I would be. The grace of the kittiwakes at Dunbar harbour, the charm of the guillemots and razorbills at St Abb's Head, the challenge of the gulls on Fidra. I shall be forever grateful for the opportunity to draw gannets on Bass Rock - the most visceral, astounding and beautiful place.

I have never looked so intently or for so long at birds before. It was at times difficult and demanding. The tutors were always there with energy and enthusiasm and not a little kindness and patience. I could not have asked to share the experience with a more lovely group of people. I benefited greatly from their support and expertise.

Coming away I felt a bit dazed. The week had been very intense. Looking through the work I produced I have a great sense of being at the beginning, so much to explore and learn. It is an uplifting thought."


Lorna Hamilton

"John Busby in Drawing Birds said ‘To copy from nature without resolving our own thoughts is a barren process’. I copied from nature for many years and when I applied for the John Busby Bursary, I had stopped painting altogether and had pretty much given up on my art. I knew the barrenness John had spoken off and it was not a nice place to be. I was desperately looking for an answer because nature and art were something I had once loved.

I came to the course expectant to receive the answer I needed and I was not disappointed. I was greeted with a warm, friendly atmosphere and a group of tutors and students willing to share, encourage and inspire. I couldn’t help but be affected by the infectious enthusiasm and passion for wildlife and painting outdoors. This sparked in me a new desire to draw and paint nature, not solely focusing on a finished painting but learning to enjoy and embrace the process of seeing, understanding and mark making. I feel I have still much to learn but the course has helped me see that this process is full of rich experiences with much value and rewards.

The process of learning to see was a revelation to me. Although I’ve painted for over twenty years, being in the field presented me with challenges and difficulties that working from photographs in a comfortable studio did not.

The amazing thing about this course was that I started having totally lost my way in my art but left with enthusiasm, motivation, excitement, a longing to learn more and a burning desire to work in the open air. It has given me direction and purpose and for that I am so grateful. Thank you for the opportunity to be part of the wonderful legacy of John Busby!"


Liz Myhill

"The biggest challenge during the week would be attempting to capture the essence of a moving, living creature in an interesting way and to understand its form and anatomy. And that is not to mention being overwhelmed by some of the surroundings we were working in and the challenges they presented - such as a very windy, gannet-infested Bass Rock where one of my drawings blew into the colony and, although thankfully retrieved, came back full of peck holes!

The week definitely was not without its struggles as I grappled with trying to balance good draughtsmanship and accuracy of form with interesting mark-making and the sheer feeling of being overwhelmed by wanting to try so much in such a short time. It felt really important to try and take some time just to appreciate and absorb the feeling of place.

Each day brought fresh new discoveries and ideas. The tutors wide range of approaches led to a fantastic balance in the feedback and different chats we had, each coming from a slightly different angle. They were all so generous, knowledgable and full of enthusiasm. The various drawing exercises we undertook really resonated and pushed me to try new ways of working. By the end of the week I think everyone felt they had achieved some kind of breakthrough, I certainly had several moments of sudden clarity about my practice.

The week itself was amazing - stunning locations, great company, new challenges, but what I like best is the fact it doesn't stop at the end of the week. There are new things I have learnt, things I want to try and a whole new group of like-minded people who I'm sure I'll be in touch with for many years to come."

Find out more and apply for the John Busby Seabird Drawing Course Bursary

Image credit

Kittie Jones SWLA Gannet colony, Bass Rock

Top Five Portrait Artists of 2018

The Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition is a fantastic opportunity to exhibit and discover the latest work by the UK’s leading portrait painters. Many of the society’s commissions begin with enquiries made during the exhibition, so it’s a great indicator of current trends in portraiture, and the talented artists who are setting those trends.

During the RP Annual Exhibition 2018, our commissions consultants were on-hand to assist visitors with their commission enquiries. Visitors usually ask for an artist by name, so by logging the number of enquiries for each artist, we worked out the most highly sought-after artists of the year.


1. Alastair Adams PPRP claims first place, receiving the most enquiries

Former President of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, Alastair exhibited three portraits of eminent women at this year’s exhibition. In addition to his commissions practice, Alastair has a research-based lecturing position at Loughborough University, and has published papers on commissioned portraiture, the application of life-drawing within a modern educational context, drawing and visualisation, and facial difference.

Alastair Adams ‘Julia Black’ for the London School of Economics

Alastair Adams 'Rita Gardner' for the Royal Geographical Society

Alastair Adams 'Sarah Furness' Lord Lieutenant of Rutland


2. Paul Brason is often placed in our ‘top portrait painters’ features

This year, he exhibited a portrait of a lady High Sheriff, a portrait which won the Burke’s Peerage Foundation Award. Paul’s portrait of Eric Widing was commissioned for the Union Club in New York, where it now hangs. Paul’s commissions have included HRH Prince Philip, Earl Spencer, Sir Roy Strong and may notable figures from the Arts and Academia.

Paul Brason 'Paul Killik' Private Commission

2018 Winner of the Burke's Peerage Foundation Award Paul Brason 'Sarah Taylor, High Sherrif of Oxford'


3. David Cobley RP NEAC was also a popular choice at the exhibition

David exhibited a special memorial portrait of Ken Dodd, which he’d painted alongside the portrait of Ken commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery. In this version, the artist explores the tensions between Ken’s public and private persona.

More recently, David’s portrait of the first female president of the Supreme Court, Baroness Hale, gained national coverage for being the first smiling portrait to hang in the hall of the illustrious Gray’s Inn.

David Cobley ‘Swifts Forever’ private commission

David Cobley ‘His Honour Judge Peter Beaumont QC CBE’ painted for The Old Bailey


4. Another favourite was Susan Ryder RP NEAC

Susan Ryder has a special gift for the family portrait; she particularly likes to paint groups, and enjoys including dogs. You’ll notice the lovely loosely-painted interiors in her exhibited work. Indeed, Susan is as well-known for her paintings of interiors as she is for her portraits, and her shows often sell out.

Susan Ryder ‘Hector with Brodie’ private commision

Susan Ryder ‘Olivia, Ben and Annabel’ family portrait commission

Susan Ryder ‘The de Laszlo family’ group portrait, private commission


5. Mark Roscoe RP

Mark Roscoe won the Changing Faces Award in 2012, the Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture in 2013, and in 2014 Mark was elected to be a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. Since becoming a member, he has become one of our most highly sought-after artists.

Mark Roscoe ‘Eniola Sokalu’ invited sitter

Mark Roscoe ‘Lord and Lady Provost’ for The City of Edinburgh part-funded by public donations

Mark Roscoe ‘Sir Martin Taylor FRS’ commissioned by Merton College

Discover more of the portraits on display at this year's Annual Exhibition

Search Press Demo Day

Search Press Demo Day

Last week was the Search Press Demo Day at Mall Galleries, where hundreds of visitors came to watch their favourite artist-authors painting in the gallery. Search Press are an international art and craft book publisher, who print instructional texts for artists and crafters of all skill levels.

Find out about Upcoming Events at Mall Galleries

Matthew Palmer demonstrating landscape painting in watercolours at the Search Press Demo Day

We were fortunate enough to have artists Hashim Akib, Matthew Palmer, Carole Massey, Julie King, Peter Cronin ARSMA and Billy Showell all painting in the main gallery, with colour experts from Winsor & Newton in the Threadneedle space, teaching visitors how to create their own watercolours, and talking them through the history of watercolour, using artefacts from the Winsor & Newton archive.

Many guests were artists themselves, and painted prolifically throughout the day. To capitalise on this creativity, we held a postcard painting competition, the winner of which received £50 worth of art materials from Winsor & Newton. “It’s always a pleasure to take part in events at Mall Galleries” said a representative from Winsor & Newton, “because the visitors are so passionate about art”. Winsor & Newton often sponsor Mall Galleries art workshops, such as our regular ‘Coffee Morning for Art Lovers with Sketching’, where they supply free art materials.

Billy Showell demonstrating floral painting at the Search Press Demo Day

Whether you were in the mood to learn about landscape painting, portraiture, floral, wildlife or marine art, there was something for you at the Search Press Demo Day. “The best thing about the event is the variety” remarked one guest, “and the price of the ticket makes it really accessible!” For one visitor, it was not only their first trip to Mall Galleries, but their first trip to London, and one made specifically to come to the Demo Day. “I’ve had a great day” she told Mall Galleries’ Digital Coordinator Beatrice Bowles-Bray. “I work in pencils, so I’ve learnt lots from Carole Massey.”

Representatives from Winsor & Newton teaching visitors how to make and use their own watercolour

Events like these are a regular feature of life at Mall Galleries, and they can be as valuable for the artists as they are for the visitors. “It’s great for an artist to get positive feedback about their work, so it’s been a really good day”, said Hashim Akib, who painted to a packed-out audience for the entire duration of the event – five hours straight, kudos to Hashim!

Hashim Akib demonstrating at the Search Press Demo Day

Find out about Upcoming Events at Mall Galleries

Coffee Mornings coming up

Central Ballet Mall Galleries

When we started our Coffee Mornings two years ago, we never dreamt that they would become as popular as they now are. Thanks to everyone who has helped make them such a success!

This year we have already drawn: ladies in traditional Japanese Kimonos, a Jazz Band, Dutch still life, abstract shapes and forms and Ballet Dancers.

As always, we’ve taken August off Coffee Mornings to make space for the Summer Workshops, but we are back with them next month and have some really exciting ones planned for the rest of the year.

Bring along your sketchbook and drawing materials, or if you don’t have any you can use those generously provided by Winsor & Newton – who have been supporting our Coffee Mornings since they began.

Thursday 27 September, 10am to 12 noon

Coffee Morning with sketching Female Kickboxers

Taking inspiration from the Society of Women Artists Annual Exhibition we sought for something that would emphasise the Society’s message of female empowerment, and what could be more empowering than kickboxing? Safari Kickboxing hold women-only martial arts classes promoting fitness and exercise as well as self-defence and self-confidence. A display team from the club will be demonstrating their skills while we draw along.

Sunday 7 October, 10am to 12 noon

Coffee Morning with Sketching for Silver Sunday

Inspired by the exhibition Lydia Corbett, Picasso’s Sylvette, we'll be drawing in the gallery while listening to the hits of 1953, the year that aged 19, Lydia Corbett, then called Sylvette David, became Picasso’s muse, sitting for some of his finest paintings.

Over 200 of Lydia’s works, oils and watercolours along with ceramics and other three-dimensional works will be in the exhibition and will inspire our drawing.

This event is part of Silver Sunday, a day of free events and activities for older people. Find other events near you:

Thursday 25 October, 10am to 12 noon

Coffee Morning with sketching Birds of Prey

Willows Bird of Prey Centre are joining us with a few of their beautiful birds to act as life models for this Coffee Morning during the Society of Wildlife Artists Annual Exhibition, The Natural Eye. There will be an Owl and a Hawk posing for your drawing.

In previous years we’d had snakes, lizards, toads and tortoises acting as live models during the SWLA Coffee Mornings, and they’ve been some of our most popular events, so make sure you arrive on time to avoid missing out.


Thursday 29 November, 10am to 12 noon

Coffee Morning with sketching Ballet Dancers

For the last Coffee Morning of the year, we are pleased to welcome back the Central School of Ballet.

Central School of Ballet’s renowned graduate performing company Ballet Central joins us again this November and their talented dancers will be posing in Nutcracker costumes for us at our Coffee Morning for Art Lovers, inspired by the festive season approaching. They will be surrounded by the paintings of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters Annual Exhibition. This is another event we anticipate being very popular, so make sure you arrive on time to avoid disappointment.

Do come and join us at any or all of these events. No need to book, just drop in on the day between 10am and 12 noon.


A Note from Lewis McNaught, Chief Executive

Lewis McNaught

Lewis McNaught, Chief Executive Federation of British Artist / Mall Galleries

My tenure as Chief Executive of the Federation of British Artists is coming to an end. After twelve years as CEO, I've decided now is a good time to pass the baton to a new Chief Executive who will lead the charity in its next phase of development. I’m very proud to have played my part in the dramatic transformation that has taken place during these years; I’m equally proud that I’m leaving it in a stronger position than when I arrived.

It’s the people that make any great business and the FBA is fortunate to have a superb team of professionals, all of whom have the drive, energy and commitment to address the further challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. 

The Main Gallery in 2007

We’re also a very special and unique business. Unlike other major galleries, we’ve achieved everything we’ve done without Government subsidy: we’ve strengthened our finances, ensuring sufficient reserves are set aside to see us through uncertain times; we’ve modernised our gallery spaces and improved our resources so we can provide superior exhibition services to members, exhibitors and visitors alike; and we’ve expanded our educational provision, having built our own dedicated Learning Centre and developed our own innovative learning programmes. 

The Main Gallery in 2016

None of this would have been possible without the incredible support that my team and I have received from a host of large and small grant-givers, major corporate sponsors and hundreds of loyal supporters, Friends and Patrons of Mall Galleries. Their support, together with the hard work and enthusiasm of the Mall Galleries team, makes it possible for me to stand down knowing the organisation is in great shape, looking forward to exciting times ahead.  

The FBA Board is seeking an experienced and inspirational arts executive to lead the next phase of this leading visual art charity’s development as Chief Executive.


The Kitchen Sink Too: Voices from Artists’ Lives

This summer, visitors to Mall Galleries have a unique opportunity to view the radical and beautiful bodies of artwork belonging to the Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust, The Jerwood Collection, The Ingram Collection and The Fleming Collection, exhibited together to celebrate the individual collections and their collaborative relationships with each other.

Reserve your seat now

As part of a programme of events accompanying The Art of Collecting, we will be joined by author, broadcaster and art historian, Michael Bird, for a lecture entitled The Kitchen Sink Too: Voices from Artists’ Lives. Based on research undertaken by Bird in the British Library’s Artists’ Lives Archive, he will offer a fresh approach to the oeuvre of Wilhelmina Barns-Graham and her contemporaries, their collaborative creative process, and their significance, both within their local artistic communities and the internationally important British Modernist Movement.

‘Kitchen Sink’ painting was a term coined by preeminent post-war art critic, David Sylvester. Reviewing the work of John Bratby and others for Encounter (1954), Sylvester wrote:

Bratby takes us back from the studio to the kitchen, depicting in his work an inventory which includes every kind of food and drink, every utensil and implement, the usual plain furniture and even the babies’ nappies on the line. Everything but the kitchen sink? The kitchen sink too.

A selection of John Bratby’s paintings are now in the Jerwood Collection, as are artworks by Wilhelmina Barns-Graham.

author, broadcaster and art historian, Michael Bird

A specialist in Modern British Art, Bird is the author of The St Ives Artists: A Biography of Time and Place. Speaking to Rupert White for in 2010, Bird highlighted how the book offers a new angle on the St Ives School, stating:

The book works as an unfolding narrative which brings together artists, places and events with certain broad historical themes. I wanted to tell a serious art-historical story but at the same time make it as readable as a novel.

With each chapter focusing on a different artist and historical theme, from the introduction of the Welfare State to forging connections with American Abstract Expressionism, this masterful survey offers surprising insights into the St Ives School and its personalities, styles, technical methods and inspirations.

Reserve your seat for this talk on eventbrite. The St Ives Artists: A Biography of Time and Place will be available to purchase in Mall Galleries Bookshop throughout the exhibition. The Art of Collecting will be open to the public from 27 June to 6 July and throughout Mayfair Art Weekend (open from 12 noon to 8pm on Friday 29 June, open until 6pm on Saturday 30 June, and closing to the public at 1pm on the final day).

Reserve your seat now

Mall Galleries Artists Win BP Portrait Awards

Mall Galleries artists have numbered among the winners of the BP Portrait Award on many occasions, including last year’s winner Benjamin Sullivan RP NEAC, the 2010 winner Daphne Todd OBE PPRP NEAC, and the 1996 winner James Hague RP. This year, we congratulate regular Mall Galleries exhibitor and Buy Art artist, Miriam Escofet, overall winner of the BP Portrait Award 2018.

Browse Work by BP Portrait Award Winners

Vanitas - Self Portrait by Miriam Escofet: Mixed Media & Pastel, 70 x 50 cm - £6,100

Miriam’s portrait of her mother An Angel at my Table wowed the judges with its surreal and sensitive representation of the universal mother figure. In Miriam’s characteristically luminescent style, the artist presents a table laid with fine china at which her mother sits taking tea, looking to her left at something unseen. Not only has the artist been praised for the great skill demonstrated by this work, Miriam has also received touching feedback from viewers for whom An Angel at my Table has helped them reconnect with their own mother, often after the mother has passed away.

Anthony by Miriam Escofet: Pencil & Charcoal, 43 x 33 cm - £2,600

There is something in the fineness and frailty of the china, itself made of bone, that evokes both the necessary ephemeral and the human desire to preserve the things we love. Miriam has captured a moment of connection and nostalgia with her own mother, yet the sitter’s gaze has moved on, hinting that this connection might one day break. It is an incredibly powerful painting, depicting the sense of dependence, admiration and fear of loss that is felt by all children.

Girl in the Hat by Ania Hobson: Oil, 56 x 40 cm - £900

We are furthermore delighted to share that Ania Hobson has won the BP Portrait Young Artist Award 2018 for her work, A Portrait of Two Female Painters. Ania is also a regular Mall Galleries exhibitor, with work on Buy Art | Buy Now. A Portrait of Two Female Artists presents the artist alongside her sister-in-law, Stevie Dix, with whom Ania shares a studio. Although Stevie is an abstract artist and Ania a portrait painter, the two women take a great deal of inspiration from each other. The double portrait is angled upwards - a classic shot used in filmmaking to indicate a character’s powerfulness. It makes a feminist statement about the historic under-representation of women artists, and Ania and her peers’ commitment to remedying this imbalance.

Both winning works are powerful statements as well as stunning works of art, achieving a level of accomplishment and complexity that Mall Galleries has come to expect through its intimate dealings with the artists, Miriam Escofet and Ania Hobson. We heartily congratulate them both.

Thom by Ania Hobson: Oil, 180 x 80 cm - £5,130

Mall Galleries Buy Art | Buy Now is also proud to host a selection of their work, including Miriam’s Vanitas – Self Portrait, the charcoal sketch Anthony, and several of the artist’s fantasy landscapes: The Portals (triptych), The Temple, and Olive Tree III. The luminescence of An Angel at my Table is shared in Vanitas – Self Portrait, where layer upon layer of mixed media and pastel combine to create the sense of light emanating from within. Miriam’s interest in symbolic objects is also seen through the inclusion of the skull, the nest and the egg, representing birth, death, and the circle of life.

Ania’s Girl in the Hat is also a self-portrait, and one which demonstrates the artist’s characteristic appreciation of fabric and texture. Similarly, Thom is Ania’s 2016 submission to the BP Portrait Award and is a life-size portrait of the artist’s brother in an eye-catching blue chequered suit. The sitter lounges in a tactile leather armchair.

The Temple by Miriam Escofet: Oil, 76 x 51 cm - £15,130

Explore stunning work by these award-winning artists online at Mall Galleries Buy Art | Buy Now, and check out their winning works at the National Portrait Gallery (14 June – 23rd September), before they leave for a tour of the UK.

Browse Work by BP Portrait Award Winners