Updates from Mall Galleries - the national focal point for contemporary figurative art, and home to the Federation of British Artists. Includes written content and photo essays from our Exhibitions, Call for Entries, Art Consultancy.

Mohammed Sami Wins the Hottinger Prize at FBA Futures 2019


The painter Mohammed Sami has won the Hottinger Prize at this year's FBA Futures for his painting Unedited Still-Life.

The Hottinger Award for Excellence is presented annually to an outstanding artist exhibiting in Mall Galleries' graduate exhibition, FBA Futures. A work or works by the winning artist are then entered into the Hottinger Collection.

Unedited Still-Life by Mohammed Sami

Mohammed's practice deals explicitly with trauma and memory. The artist lived through seven wars in his native Iraq before emigrating to Sweden and eventually to London where he studied at Goldsmiths. Mohammed's paintings are imbued with the lived experience of PTSD from those wars, which reverberates like shockwaves through the materiality of his work; angles are disorientating; there are recurrent motifs of sleeping aids; visual evidence of loud crashes; phones ringing off the hook with bad news.

Tomi Olopade was awarded the runner up prize by Hottinger: a commission to produce a new work for their collection. Born in London to a Nigerian family, Olopade started out as an illustrator, gaining recognition from musicians such as Joey Badass and Maverick Sabre before he ultimately decided to pursue fine art. The works he presented in FBA Futures explore the culture of hair within the black community.

Mohammed Sami receiving the Hottinger Prize for Excellence from CEO Alastair Hunter for his painting Unedited Still-Life.

Tomi Olopade with his painting, Amy's Bedroom.

Find out more about FBA Futures 2019

Image credit

Unedited Still-Life by Mohammed Sami

Estelle Lovatt FRSA: 'Art Expert' in Residence


What did our 'Art Expert in Residence' Estelle Lovatt think of her first Mall Galleries residency day?

I was thrilled to be ‘Art Expert in Residence’ at the FBA Futures 2019 Exhibition. I also wasn’t sure what to expect, as total strangers were invited to join me at my table in the Mall Galleries café, to discuss any question about art, from the exhibition itself, through to ideas around art making, and art market insights.

As a freelance art critic, who has trained as a fine artist, I have the experience of being on both sides of the canvas, but not both sides of the table. Sitting at my designated table, I wondered whether I would feel like I was speed-dating for an art chat. Or be more like Marina Abramovic at her performance ‘The Artist Is Present’.

My table became a place for gallery-goers to rest their feet and eyes, whilst talking ‘art’ with me.  I heard lovely comments from people who said how much they liked the exhibition: 'it’s getting better and better…firing on all cylinders…interesting…impressive'!  Several exchanges were very short - a few seconds, but still interesting, some chatted for minutes, others longer.

One of the exhibiting artists, Keron Beattie, who had impressed me with his lead and glass figures, came to chat with his friends.  We talked with a primary school teacher about what scale is the right scale to make art, as Beattie’s settles at 6 cms. Another visitor dropped by my table for a chinwag, whilst waiting to go to the talk that was taking place alongside the exhibition.  He thought the art 'looked so vibrant'.

Me and my newly-made art-talking-table-friends created a ‘community’ in which to engage, schmooze and widen our understanding, appreciation and tolerance of our art world.

There were no boring conversations, and it was great to talk about art from the Renaissance to the YBAs – both giving guidance specifically on the individual’s career or work, or more generally the wider subject minus toffee-nosed art-world gobbledygook, often heard, talking about contemporary art and the role of the artist today.

Next time you see me at my table, please do come and join me.

Estelle Lovatt FRSA


More 2019 ‘Art Expert in Residence’ dates to be confirmed soon. 

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In the Studio visits Ben Johnson


Artists from our In the Studio project visited the studio of Ben Johnson and his assistant Georgia Kitty Harris, to discuss the value of intergenerational creative relationships. See their visit for yourself.


Find out more about In the Studio and how to support the project

In the Studio visits Tim Benson PROI NEAC


Artists from our In the Studio project visited Tim Benson, member of the New English Art Club and President of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters. Here's how they found the experience.

'Visiting Tim Benson’s studio on Tuesday was a thoroughly enjoyable experience' says In the Studio artist, Erin Lee. 'His words about the importance of education and opening up the art world to people from different demographics, including young people, women, and those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, resonated strongly with me.'

'It was inspiring to see the President of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters striving towards an inclusive art world by changing perceptions of galleries and art societies. Tim spoke of the artist’s role as an ambassador to speak about broader issues and highlighted the importance of showcasing different stories. Tim’s aims for his presidency are inspirational and valuable for the contemporary art world.'

'Tim has been incredibly generous, welcoming us into his studio for two inspiring hours' says Suzon Lagarde. 'He mentioned the importance for him of having a separate space to paint: a studio to work in with no distractions. Most of us taking part in In the Studio still work from our bedrooms, so we discussed the logistics of that and how a lack of decarmation between different areas of our lives was a difficulty in itself.

It was valuable to share the solutions we'd each found to overcome this, like pinning work to the walls and placing work face down to avoid feeling overwhelmed, and setting timers as motivation to start painting. Meeting peers who are in a similar situation and stage of their development is so useful!'

'Tim encouraged us to enter competitions, but also reminded us that rejection is inevitable and not to take it personally, but to channel that frustration into the artwork. He showed us brilliant self portraits produced using this technique!

As President of the ROI, Tim explained how important it was for the society to be accessible to all artists, so that when they select work for their annual exhibitions, those choices reflect the quality of the works and nothing else. One example of this diversification is in welcoming unframed submissions, enabling artists who can't afford framing to enter their work.'

We were fortunate enough to have Paulina's delightful daughter Erin with us for the visit!

'Once again, I felt very lucky to attend this visit through the In The Studio project. When we're talking about all the different elements that come together to give an artist confidence in their practice, what Mall Galleries are creating here is undoubtedly precious. As a young artist, to be recognised and to have the opportunity to meet inspiring professionals like Tim is so valuable.'

Photography by Paulina Kwietniewksa.

Find out more about In the Studio and how to support the project

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Sketch by Suzon Lagarde. Photography by Paulina Kwietniewska

In the Studio visits Philip James ROI

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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


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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

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.

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).


Hermione Hammond Drawing Award Winner 2018


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.

Art and Architecture - What's the Connection?


Browse the Architectural vs Abstract Selection here 

There is a fascinating dynamic that working from an architectural subject provides; however freely the painting material flows and however close to abstraction I go, the persuasive presence of an underlying geometry and logic seems to follow. (Martin Goold)

Visual Art has always taken inspiration from Architecture; you can find Italian frescoes, dating back as far as the 1st century BC, which mimic the marble columns of buildings. Famous artist-cum-architects include Michelangelo who, along with creating some of the most influential frescoes and sculptures in the history of Western art, also designed St Peter’s Basilica. Giovanni Battista Piranesi may be best-known for his prints of Italy, but he also worked for the Magistrato delle Acque, an organisation responsible for engineering and restoring the country’s historical buildings, and in 1766, Piranesi created a design for London’s Blackfriars Bridge.

Diana Sheldon, The Church of Santa Maria della Salute, Venice

More recent figures such as Antoni Gaudi and Le Corbusier have further highlighted the intersections between Art and Architecture; few of us could confidently separate the artistic from the architectural elements of Gaudi’s highly-decorated Sagrada Familia, or Le Corbusier’s Notre Dame du Haut. The closeness of this relationship is less surprising when we consider that the Royal Institute of British Architects only reclassified Architecture as a science in 1958, before which the subject was predominantly taught in art schools.

Miriam Escofet, The Temple

Mall Galleries latest Selection on Buy Art | Buy Now showcases how today’s artists are reflecting this age-old alliance. Architectural vs Abstract features artwork by celebrated artists such as the 2018 winner of the Henri Roche Award, Martin Goold; three-time winner of the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize, Peter Clossick; 2018 FBA Futures exhibitor, Gail Seres-Woolfson, and Sarah Spencer NEAC. Spencer conceives architectural elements in painting as “a vehicle for playing with light and shadow"; "buildings filter, reflect and absorb the atmospheric light”, she says. The sunlight in Spencer's Il Convente Dei Carmine, albeit unseen, is a central presence in the work. Another artist interested in renaissance architecture is Diana Sheldon: “I love classical architectural detail and painting buildings from an unusual perspective", she says, "especially in Italy, where you find a special contrast of light and shade which is particularly rewarding”.

Martin Goold, Torre Apponale

While many of our artists create faithful representations of architectural structures, others use architecture as a springboard into abstraction. Gail Seres-Woolfon became fascinated with the urban landscape while training at The Art Academy in London. Her works in this selection, Urban Suspension and Girl Walking, explore how the individual creates and interacts with the metropolis. Urban Suspension deconstructs urbanism, presenting a chaotic assemblage of abstracted materials, where emerging shapes suggest the potential for future order, design and construction.

My paintings explore the experience of moving through the city and the rhythms, space and architecture around me. Through a process of layering and abstraction, observation and reimagining, I build environments with colliding planes, illusory depth and dancing lines, alive with uprights, angles and the possibility of encounter. (Gail Seres-Woolfson)

Dan Rice famously claimed that ‘there are three forms of visual art: painting is art to look at, sculpture is art you walk around, and architecture is art you can walk through’. Girl Walking ironises this simplistic distinction; it is a 2D urban scene which reaches towards three-dimensionality, in which a female figure seems about to walk out of the composition. The artist compels us to consider whether architecture can be defined by its functionality: the experiencer's ability to 'walk through' it. Would the work be any less architectural if the ‘girl walking’ walked out of view? Even in its title, Girl Walking foregrounds this tension between viewer and experiencer, spectacle and environment, artistic and architectural design.

Gail Seres-Woolfson, Girl Walking

This is a fascinating idea to reflect upon, and one for which Mall Galleries Buy Art | Buy Now is ideally placed, having access to such a diverse range of artistic styles and subjects. Take a turn through Architectural vs Abstract and consider how each artist presents a subtly different dynamic between the individual, art and architecture, as they invite you to imaginatively look at, walk around, and walk through their constructions.

Browse the Architectural vs Abstract Selection here 

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