Mall Galleries news

John Busby Seabird Drawing Course Bursaries

Jones-Kittie-Gannet-colony-Bass-Rock-

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: www.silversunday.org.uk


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 artcornwall.org 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



Hermione Hammond Drawing Award Winner 2018

'Study 1' by Martin Karpisz

Out of 699 entries from over 70 colleges in Britain and the Republic of Ireland, Mall Galleries is delighted to announce that the winner of the Hermione Hammond Drawing Award 2018 is Martin Karpisz, professionally known as Siguel. 

Study 1 by Martin Karpisz

Karpisz is currently studying a one-year Master’s programme at Glasgow School of Art, having completed his BA at Poznan University of Arts. His winning work is titled Study 1 and portrays two friends, Cheak Yen Hui and Julie Mitchell, to the right of whom an ear is drawn in considerable detail; “I want the viewer to listen to the story the picture is telling”, explained Karpisz.

Self Drive by Nicholas Peall

Guest Judge of the Award, Peter Clossick, praised “the quality of Martin’s drawing”, adding that “it has a lovely rhythmic quality, and I like the listening ear”. Clossick is a member of the New English Arts Club and past President of The London Group. He was joined on the judging panel by three others, representing Hermione Hammond’s family and Mall Galleries.

My Grandfather by Meggie Watkins

The 2018 runner-up is Nicholas Peall, student at Turps Art School, for his charcoal drawing, Self Drive. “My work is fuelled by modern-day anxiety and the yearning for spiritual freedom which, in our age of electronic chaos, can be hard to achieve”, says Nicholas. Three further works were highly commended by the judges; My Grandfather by Meggie Watkins (University of Brighton), City Life by Jack Dickens (Norwich University of the Arts), and Peckham High Street 4 by Rebecca Harper (Turps Art School).

City Life by Jack Dickens

Peckham High Street 4 by Rebecca Harper

The Award was established in 2012 in memory of the artist Hermione Hammond, and aims to encourage artists to develop their drawing skills. It is now run in conjunction with Mall Galleries and the Federation of British Artists.

Falcke on the Mall

Despite being a practising artist since the 1950s, John Falcke has never exhibited... until now. Mall Galleries is honoured to host Falcke on the Mall, a retrospective exhibition showcasing a remarkable career characterised by creativity and experimentation.

John Falcke, Big Screen Kiss

Spanning several styles and subjects, Falcke’s art draws on canonical twentieth-century movements, from Picasso and Cubism to Malevich and Suprematism, in which shape and colour ‘reign supreme’ over image and narrative. These referential elements, combined with a flexible approach to subject, and a serial method of working, saw Falcke develop a unique style which has contributed significantly to British Modernism.

John Falcke, Copenhagen Factory

A fascinating element of John Falcke’s practice is his commitment to using unusual and modest materials; not only are his pieces stripped of unnecessary mark-making, they are also stripped of material pretension. From household gloss paint to MDF board, his tools of choice are surprising, and contribute a humbleness and charm to each piece, keeping viewers on their toes.

Falcke on the Mall will be displayed in the North Gallery until Saturday 17 March (closing at 1pm on final day). This exhibition is complemented by a range of accompanying literature available to purchase from Mall Galleries Bookshop, including Falcke,  a monograph about Falcke’s life and career, Identity, Art and Guilt, the illustrated memoir by Dan Davidson, and John Falcke’s book of Rhythms and Christmas Jingles. Postcards and posters of the exhibited works are also available.

John Falcke, Great Pett Farm 1

Pastels and Pirouettes

Coffee Morning sketching ballet dancers

Pastel painting and ballet have been close companions since Edgar Degas first ventured backstage at the Palais Garnier to sketch the dancers of the Paris Opera. Not only are the frosted hues of pink-ribboned pointe shoes and snow-white tutus ideally suited to the tonal delicacy of pastels, but the shapes and movements in ballet achieve an austere grace under the pastellist’s touch. 

As part of The Pastel Society Annual Exhibition 2018, Mall Galleries paid homage to this celebrated relationship with a visit from the ballerinas of the Central School of Ballet, who danced and posed, with classical piano accompaniment, for the galleries’ visitors to draw. 280 people took part, with help from Derwent who supplied free art equipment. As eager guests queued out of the door, and excited artists stood on chairs to get the best angle for their balletic compositions, the ballerinas and pianist wove a spell of creative serenity over Mall Galleries.

“It’s a wonderful challenge to capture movement in this way”, remarked one guest, whose sketchbook was dotted with rapidly-drawn figures in motion. Each visitor developed their own approach to drawing dance; some took photographs and worked from these, some used iPads to create digital drawings, and some used multiple pastel pencils simultaneously, the replicated lines mirroring the synchronised movement of the dancers. From realist to abstract and amateur to professional, artists from all backgrounds and ages entered into the spirit of the occasion.  

This event was organised as part of Mall Galleries’ ‘Coffee Morning for Art Lovers’ initiative, which takes place on the last Thursday of every month, offering guests unique opportunities to sketch extraordinary subjects, befriend fellow art-lovers, and receive a coffee and pastry from our café for just £3. Previous sitters have included iguanas and tarantulas, and next month there will be the opportunity to sketch jazz musicians, performing live in the main gallery.  

The next ‘Coffee Morning for Art Lovers’ will take place on 29th March between 10am and noon, during the Royal Society of British Artists Annual Exhibition. This event will be sponsored by Winsor & Newton. If you were as enthralled as we were by the Central School of Ballet’s graduate performing company, Ballet Central, look out for their nationwide tour, which starts tomorrow at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. If you were unable to join us for this event, visit our What’s On page to find out about other activities during The Pastel Society Annual Exhibition 2018, which runs until Saturday 3rd March.