Mall Galleries news

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.

Darren Rees, Polar Bear Christmas Card

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Darren Rees SWLA is a self-taught artist and sits on the council of the Society of Wildlife Artists. Inspired by nature, he travels all over the world throughout Europe, the Americas and the Arctic to sketch and paint all varieties of flora and fauna.

He has created this wonderful Polar Bear design for a Christmas Card which we will be selling in Mall Galleries’ Bookshop this festive season. We caught up with him to discuss Christmas, acrylics and Arctic expeditions.

How did you go about capturing the bear in the moment?

It was one of the several bears on pack ice in the Barents Sea, southeast of Svalbard. I sketched it from the ice-worthy ship I was on. It was originally sketched from life with watercolours, and I then I reworked some of the images with acrylic in the studio on my return.


I have read that this year you are doing some naturalist tourn with Speyside Wildlife Company to really exciting destinations - where has been your favourite so far? Where are you most excited about visiting next?

I lead nature tours for about ten weeks every year. So far for 2017 I have been to see bustards and eagles in Spain, grizzly bears and wolves in Yellowstone Park, and lions, rhinos and cheetahs in South Africa. By the time this interview is published I will have also been whale watching in Nova Scotia!


Can you explain how you create your subtle yet striking brushstroke technique using acrylics?

For this polar bear, I used a loaded brush on a very smooth panel as I wanted the brushstrokes to keep their integrity. Integrity is sometimes lost on woven canvas, and I wanted the bold brushstroke effect to remain to emphasise the softness of the polar bear.


Finally, how will you be spending the festive season?

I will spend this Christmas with the family in Scotland - I hope there will be some snow!

Image credit

Darren Rees Polar Bear

A Meeting of Like Minds that led to a Lasting Friendship

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On the 26th January at one of Mall Galleries’ ‘Coffee Mornings for Art Lovers', two of our visitors happened to sit next to one another …by the time they left, just a few hours later, they had swapped numbers and become friends in real life!


Read their story:

Patricia Glasswell & Katrine Storebo

Katrine: I started visiting the Mall Galleries regularly earlier this year to attend the Coffee mornings. It seemed like a lovely thing to do on a Thursday morning; inspiring, cultural and social…It was there that I met Patricia. We shared the same table as we were both there on our own

Patricia: The morning we met I felt a bit reluctant to get drawing in public, so initially we got chatting about how this fear can hold you back…talking to Katrine encouraged me.  Then I noticed she was pregnant so I told her I had trained as a midwife and that was it, we got chatting about loads of things. Having swapped emails, later that week we exchanged photos of our own art and then carried on swapping notes and chatting by email

Katrine: Having sent some photos of my son Alex when he was born, we decided to meet again in June for Patricia to meet him in person

Patricia: “…what a lovely baby

I have been a Friend of Mall Galleries for many years and really enjoy the end of month coffee mornings. They are a great way to meet other like-minded people plus an extra enticement to not miss a current exhibition. It is amazing to have the use of paper and drawing materials. I also usually visit Cass Art in Charing Cross to receive 10% off purchases thanks to Mall Galleries.

Katrine: It’s so lovely to plan to meet up with someone at the Gallery, it’s a really friendly, social place and I feel very comfortable attending events there. I think it is great that I can still come to the coffee mornings with my son Alex, he is now just over 6 months old and it’s really convenient with the lift, plus the staff are really friendly. Patricia has been raising money for the St John’s Hospice for years and so not only are we meeting up again at Mall Galleries but I’m aiming to attend her latest exhibition in November in St John’s Wood…it’s for such a good cause.


Patricia Glasswell has shown and sold work at the Discerning Eye exhibition at Mall Galleries. Her next exhibition is being shown on the walls of The Hospital of St John & St Elizabeth from 6th – 14th November, 10am-4pm. 40% of all proceeds are in aid of St John's Hospice. Patricia has been raising money for St John's Hospice for over 17 years.

Exhibition Address: The Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth, 60 Grove End Road, St John's Wood, NW8 9NH (nearest tube St John’s Wood)

Katrine Storebo works as an art teacher at Spitalfield's Crypt Trust (the New Hanbury Project, which was recently visited by Prince William) where she teaches art to people who are in recovery from drugs and alcohol. She is a figurative painter



Our Coffee Mornings for Art Lovers are perfect for those of you who love popping in to have an informal chat about art with other visitors and members of the Mall Galleries team. There is also the chance to do some drawing, with Free drawing materials generously provided by Winsor & Newton

Coffee Mornings for Art Lovers take place on the last Thursday of each month*, so there will always be a new exhibition to see and discuss.

* excluding December 2017

Rosa Sepple PRI: Profile and Interview

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Rosa Sepple PRI has been an esteemed member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours since 2004, and this year elected President (becoming the first ever woman president of the RI).

Largely self-taught, Rosa’s paintings are always colourful, fun and laced with dreamy elements of magical realism. We asked Rosa a few questions about her creative inspiration, life as the first woman president of the RI, and her two Christmas cards that will be available in our bookshop, ‘Lady Madonna’ and ‘Christmas Party’.

By Anna Preston


How was your first year as President of the Royal Society of Painters in Watercolours?

The role of President was most unexpected due to the unfortunate loss of a true friend and colleague, Andy Wood PPRI. I was elected as Vice President in April 2016 and due to Andy’s illness found myself deputising for him 6 months later. On Andy’s passing in the Autumn, I assumed the role of President and was elected officially in April 2017, the first woman President since the RI was formed in 1831. At times things are hectic but very rewarding. It is an honour being President of this wonderful society and I have set myself several goals for my 5-year term. Before becoming President, I decided to try to repeat my successful 2015 solo show at Mall Galleries. I have created 65 new paintings - lots of hard work on top of being President! But I am excited for people to enjoy my new paintings.


Your two Christmas cards are quite different, but both have your signature style and feature your signature motifs of cats, young ladies and raucous parties. What is your favourite subject to explore through your art, and why?

I paint every day. All my work is from my imagination, drawing from my love of animals, and memories of my youth - of being a Catholic child growing up in Italy and subsequently moving back to the UK in the swinging sixties. Walking into my studio is always an adventure, as I rarely know what will transpire...the subject depends on my mood on the day. Not too many are religious pictures, although I do have a portrait of Christ over my bed and I have done an interpretation of the ‘Last Supper’. I was delighted when Mall Galleries chose ‘Lady Madonna’ to be a Christmas card!

Lady Madonna

Your use of the symbolic red and blue of the Virgin Mary’s clothes, and the texturing of her halo in ‘Lady Madonna’, reinterpret traditional depictions of her, referencing Byzantine icons and medieval devotional art in a playful and modern way. Perhaps the title even alludes to the Beatles song...Being of Italian heritage, how have Roman Catholic portrayals of the Madonna influenced you and your portrayal of her?

Lots of colour and texture are my signature. There are a few dark and disturbing works but colours are important to me. My grandparents were Venetian so I grew up going to many churches around the Veneto region, and the Byzantine paintings I saw there have stuck with me, as this picture suggests. The colours of Madonna’s clothing are usually red and blue, as I remember. Oh! And the title, ‘Lady Madonna’ is, of course, a reference to those wonderful summer days of the sixties!


Mary’s halo contrasts so beautifully with the smoothness and serenity of her face. What techniques and media did you use to achieve this contrast?

The Virgin Mary is the epitome of womanhood: warm, honest, sweet and loving. Her halo is the ultimate holy symbol of saintliness, strength and reliability, but her face must remain soft. The results were achieved by layer after layer of paint and gouache. I love using gold leaf and gold paints - the Madonna is the ideal opportunity.


Finally, how will you be spending the festive season?

Every Christmas is spent at home with the four ‘F’s’, family, friends, food and plenty of fizz, with scenes much like my ‘Christmas Party’ card! It should be a happy and peaceful time.

Christmas Party


Rosa's Solo Exhibition opens at Mall Galleries from 26 September to 1 October

Mall Galeries Christmas Cards are available in the Gallery Bookshop now. 

My Work Placement Experience with Mall Galleries Education

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My Work Placement Experience with Mall Galleries Education

‘Our Shared Heritage’ Exhibition and Project in partnership with The Royal Parks.



By Zhenni Xu

Audiences Are the Best Artists and Children Can Be the Most Inspirational Mentors

For two weeks over this summer, I was fortunate to undertake a work placement with the Mall Galleries Education Department, assisting with the delivery of the ‘Our Shared Heritage’ project. This placement was part of my Masters degree in Museums and Galleries in Education at the Institute of Education, University College London. ‘Our Shared Heritage’ was a multimedia exhibition showcasing the rich and previously hidden heritage of The Royal Parks, accompanied by a community engagement programme of activities for all ages.

During my placement, I learned more about designing and delivering educational workshops and most importantly I was able to exchange ideas and art inspiration with participants. Their talent and enthusiasm helped me increase my own understanding of art education. I was not only a facilitator and educator, but also a happy listener and eager student.

‘Our Shared Heritage’ had several workshops, and they all had something in common: audiences were invited to draw inspiration from painting, drawing and photography in order to create their own artwork inspired by The Mall and St. James’ Park area. The first workshop was ‘People and Places of The Mall’, a walking tour and drawing session that introduced young and adult participants to various historical, architectural and social aspects of the area.

Classical architecture meets concrete structures at the ‘People and Places of The Mall’ workshop

Using Photography to Capture Moments in St. James’s Park

The photography workshop in St. James’s Park was memorable. Participants used Polaroid cameras, took photographs on their phones and explored collage in order to capture the various elements of the Park. At the same time, they experimented with different photographic techniques, looking at line,

shape, perspective and the positioning of their subject matter. Although it was a very rainy day, this did not affect the enthusiasm of the participants, to some extent, it actually made the photos even more artistic and colour-saturated.

Dee, the photographer leading the session, is discussing with the group different photographic techniques and ways that they can express ideas and feelings through the camera.

We found interesting viewpoints and angles to capture our shot. For example: leaving white space around our subject matter made the photographs more poetic, a case of ‘less is more’! When shooting intricate buildings and structures, we zoomed in on detailed views, thus creating more abstract and artistic works. We were enjoying ourselves so much that we even forgot about the rain.

We are trying out different angles, with a goal to capture the best moments!

A distorted tree shot from an unconventional angle, a bit like a swirl or a labyrinthine tunnel.

Photos taken with Polaroid cameras

Many participants combined photographs printed from their phones with text, collage, cyanotypes and polaroids to create painting-like travel diaries.

‘Art in The Park’ Activity Day

For the ‘Art in The Park’ activity day we invited all ages to come and join us for a day-long drawing session inspired by all the exciting images, feelings and inspiration that green spaces provide us with. Some participants preferred to created detailed works using delicate and exquisite brushwork, while others combined bold brushwork with different colors and textures, creating strong and expressive images. People’s work revealed their personal style, and interestingly, adults tended to record more realistic scenes while children preferred to convert their feelings into abstract patterns or colours.

Photo Wall

On the final day of the exhibition, we invited the wider public to bring in their own photographs capturing an unexpected moment at The Royal Parks or any other green space that they enjoy spending time in, to be exhibited in one of the Gallery spaces. Photographs from the workshops were also hang alongside those brought in by visitors, prompting people to stop, look at their work, as well as to talk to others and exchange ideas about the animals, people and colours of The Royal Parks.

Me in front of the Photo Wall


The ‘Our Shared Heritage’ programme of activities was a partnership between The Royal Parks and Mall Galleries education teams. 

'In the Studio’ A Major New Initiative by Mall Galleries

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A Unique Opportunity to help Young Talent become Professional Artists

‘In the Studio’ is inspired by the everyday life and spaces of professional artists. Supporting this unique project will enable more creative young people to discover the studios of artists who exhibit at Mall Galleries. During visits and mentoring sessions, they will explore the significance of these very personal spaces, and the influence they can have for developing a successful career in the arts.

Several young artists find the idea of a long-term career in the art world daunting or financially and logistically unrealistic. Artists taking their first steps in the industry do not often have the opportunity to meet their mid-career and well-established professional peers in order to find out more about how they progressed through the sector. ‘In the Studio’ will help familiarise young talent with what it is really like being a professional artist - beyond what they see and experience in a museum or gallery. They will be invited into the space where Mall Galleries artists spend most of their time, thinking, researching, experimenting and creating work.

Some of the participants will be art school graduates, others will not have been through formal art training. We will also engage those young artists coming from disadvantaged backgrounds who might not have been able to develop their talent due to financial, social or educational barriers. ‘In the Studio’ will allow Mall Galleries artists to share their stories of how they have developed professionally and creatively throughout the years in order to educate and inspire young talent.

The project will culminate with a group exhibition in our Learning Centre on the significance of ‘The Artist’s Studio’, with all artwork created by the young artists themselves in collaboration with Mall Galleries artists. This will be the perfect opportunity to show their own creative work in a central London gallery for the first time and to share their ideas with our visitors.

Your support will help create a new generation of artists for Mall Galleries. 

Image: The Other Richard

Image credit

Emma Hopkins Studio

Sitting for Peter Clossick NEAC - Day 5

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Catch up on Day 1Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4


Radio 3 was playing again, Franz Liszt as Composer of the Week. Pretty stirring stuff.

We looked at the portrait upside down, it helps to abstract the image and see how the rectangular canvas has been divided up.

Peter says the painting is becoming centrifugal. That Turner used the centrifugal shape a lot, it is considered by some to relate to Death. That we are spinning into Death.

Then we looked at some Giacometti portraits upside down, this way you can see just how much of the detail is focussed on the face, the bodies are very ill-defined, and sometimes the hands appear huge.

Peter then showed me an exercise in perspective to show that these giant hands were probably exactly as seen: Hold both hands out in front of you, as if they were flat against a wall. Close one eye and bring one hand towards you until it is level with your other elbow. The difference in size is amazing!

Hermione Hammond Drawing Award 2017

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We’re thrilled to announce that Royal Drawing School student Gideon Summerfield, aged 22, has won the First Prize of £4,000 in this year’s Hermione Hammond Drawing Award for his pencil portrait of the British immunologist Dr William Frankland MBE, who continues working at 105 years old.

Gideon was selected as this year’s winner out of 674 entries from 74 colleges in Britain and Ireland. 

Dr William Frankland is 105 years young and it was a huge privilege to meet him given his experiences as a Japanese prisoner of war and an eminent immunologist. I feel humbled to have received the Hermione Hammond Drawing Award and I am grateful to Mall Galleries and the Federation of British Artists for their recognition. - Gideon Summerfield



Runner-up Rebeka-Louise Lee, 20, studying at Canterbury Christ Church University, has won Cass Art vouchers worth £250.

The Hermione Hammond Award was established in 2012 in memory of the artist Hermione Hammond. Run in conjunction with Mall Galleries, the Award encourages art students to develop their drawing skills. This year’s judging panel included artist Jason Bowyer as the head judge; Alistair Redgrift, Exhibitions Manager at the Federation of British Artists; Liberty Rowley, Audience Development Manager at Mall Galleries; and Jane Brown, Tom Cartlidge and Robert Prescott: niece, great-nephew and cousin of Hermione Hammond. 


View the album below on Facebook to see work Highly Commended by the judging panel alongside the prize-winning works

Posted by Mall Galleries on Monday, 8 May 2017

Image credit

Gideon Summerfield Dr William Frankland (detail)

Sitting for Peter Clossick NEAC - Day 1

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Liberty Rowley, Marketing Manager at Mall Galleries, recently agreed to sit for Peter Clossick NEAC after bumping in to him at a book launch in the South London Gallery.

In this first post in an ongoing series, Liberty describes visiting Peter's studio for the first time and his method starting a new portrait. 


I arrived at his house after work on Monday as agreed. We started by having a chocolate biscuit in the kitchen and discussing The Octonauts with his 4 year old grandchild.

We then went into the Studio, an extension on the side of a Victorian house, past Peter’s motorbike covered from the rain. Inside, along one wall are random newspaper sheets taped up to protect it from paint splashes. Along the other are some of his works on the floor, wet and in progress, with taped up sketchbook drawings above. Next to his easel, where they can be viewed while he is working, colour wheels and colour experiments are pinned over the newspapered wall.

In front of the easel is a table top palette, with a porridge bowl sized portion each of Red, Yellow, Blue and White paint heaped on the surface.

Peter has already arranged a chair and a choice of cushions for me. Radio 3 is broadcasting a documentary about Scott Joplin. Peter decided not to use artificial light as it will stay lighter for longer over the coming weeks, while he is working on the painting, so better to start off in the dusk on the first day knowing it will be light enough to paint at that same time next week.

I fixed my eyes on a green image clipped from a newspaper and pinned to the wall. Without my glasses on, and in the diminishing daylight, I could not quite tell what the image was. Over the course of the hour I sat motionless, the image shifted from looking like a woman sitting in an armchair to a deep dark jungle scene. I resolved not to look more closely until the painting is finished, as I will be looking at the image for several more hours, I thought it best it remain elusive and mysterious.

Peter worked with two brushes; both quite wide and long. Every few strokes he would wipe the paint from them with a fresh sheet of newspaper. The sound of crumpling newsprint soon mixed with that of Peter huffing to himself which as time passed grew louder and began to include the occasional sucking in of air over his teeth, in the style of a cowboy builder quoting on a difficult job, and sometimes he would mutter “no, no, no”. Eventually I timidly asked “Are you okay? You are making disgruntled noises” to which Peter answered, “Oh yes, I make lots of noises. I’m just wrestling with myself.” He explained that the difficulty of translating a 3 dimensional object (me) on to a 2 dimensional canvas, while I was moving, while he was moving ‘while the world was moving’, was what kept him painting.

I found I shouldn’t let my mind wander too much, as this made it difficult to maintain the pose, I remembered Quentin Crisp describing the intense concentration needed to be a good life model in his book The Naked Civil Servant and decided not only to re-read this book, but also to focus on the shifting green newspaper cutting on the wall and stay as still as possible.

Peter seemed relieved when the alarm sounded to let him know he had painted for the hour we had agreed on, but still seemed keen for me to come back the same time next week.

by Liberty Rowley, Mall Galleries Marketing Manager

Image credit

Peter Clossick NEAC, Liberty, Day 1 (detail|)

Ian Cryer PROI Painting of the Royal Mail Travelling Post Office Train made into a Royal Mail Stamp

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When he heard the last Royal Mail Travelling Post Office Train was to run in 2004, Ian Cryer arranged to document for posterity the Royal Mail Staff sorting post at 90 miles an hour from Plymouth to Bristol.

His painting has now been turned into a stamp as part of the Royal Mail Heritage: Transport set as part of the Royal Mail 500 celebrations.

Now President of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, Ian Cryer talks on London Live about the process.

The original painting, along with many other of Ian’s works, can be seen at M1 Gallery in Greenwich until 5 March 2017

Image credit

Ian Cryer, Royal Mail

Winner of the Jackson's One to Watch Prize, FBA Futures 2017

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Inês-Hermione Mulford Surgical Still-Life voted the Jackson's One to Watch by visitors to FBA Futures 2017

Inês-Hermione’s Surgical Still Life was painted as part of a series of works she produced after shadowing craniofacial surgeons at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. It was selected to appear as part of FBA Futures 2017, Mall Galleries’ annual survey of recent graduates working in representational art.

Inês-Hermione has just graduated with a BA from Edinburgh College of Art and will receive a voucher for £250 worth of art materials to spend at Jackson's Art Supplies to help her to carry on painting. Jackson’s Art Supplies have been sponsoring the FBA Futures One to Watch Award since 2015.

We spoke to her about being selected to participate in the FBA Futures exhibition, winning the visitors' vote, her work and her plans for the future:

"Being selected to exhibit as part of the FBA Futures exhibition was an incredible opportunity to further my career and the confidence booster I needed after graduating from my Painting degree at Edinburgh College of Art. Seeing my artwork alongside other art graduates in such a prestigious venue as Mall Galleries was a surreal experience, but one that has only increased my desire to make art. 

However, winning the Jackson’s ‘One to Watch’ Art Prize has, and I don’t want to sound cheesy, made me believe that becoming an artist is not such a faraway dream as I have thought. Especially as it’s an award voted for by the public. Support from family, peers and tutors is amazing, but to have that encouragement from people in no way connected to you is unrivalled. 

This painting is one of a series I produced in reflection on my time spent shadowing craniofacial surgeons at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. While the status of skill in art, especially representational art, is continuously challenged in the contemporary art world, skills are the foundation of surgery. Although they are very separate professions today, historically artists and surgeons could be one and the same. This honed skill of manual dexterity is just as important in surgery as it is in my own painting. As stated by Tim Ingold ‘every hand-drawn line is a trace of a gesture’ just as every gesture made by the surgeon with the scalpel leaves a mark, a scar, the surgeon leaves a trace of what once was. It is the notion of drawing as a process of thinking, not the projection of a thought (Phipps 2006). The precision and care surgeons take when undergoing surgery is reflected in my paintings.

I have started planning more work along similar lines; on the cross overs between art and science, with hopefully another placement in a hospital. My work is very dependent on research and anthropological study as I feel a full emersion in a chosen theme is key to its representation. Even so, I am currently enjoying a little down-time after 20 years in education, and over the past few months have been working mainly on commissioned works. Now, however, I am looking at continuing my education as previously intended, and am applying for an art Masters at the Edinburgh College of Art. An institution that has supported me, and guided me to develop my own notions about art and where I can take it. 

For me, the arts and the sciences are interlinked more than people realise or give it credit for. Edinburgh College of Art did not hinder my desire to study the sciences alongside my art degree but instead instilled in me the importance to question and challenge these stigmas; to understand and reveal the overlaps between what is idealistically deemed ‘artistic’ and ‘academic’ and to ultimately prove art’s place within the sciences.

Because after all as James Martin (2012) said ‘Creativity is really a critical element of how human beings advance in all our disciplines. Where medicine and science need help from art is in looking over the horizon, in looking at something in a completely different way. Thinking as an artist means connecting the dots that aren’t next to each other’.



See the FBA Futures 2017 Exhibition online now

Image credit

Inês-Hermione Mulford, Surgical Still Life (detail)