2021 is special for us, marking 50 years since Mall Galleries opened and the 60th anniversary of the Federation of British Artists.

The Federation of British Artists at Mall Galleries is the national focal point for contemporary figurative art.

We believe in figurative art's power to tease the mind, provoke the eye, demand attention, offer new perspectives, intrigue, and trigger the imagination.

The Federation comprises several leading national art societies; each society is regarded as a flagship for the art forms they champion, and all host their annual exhibitions at Mall Galleries. 

The art societies are:

Between them, the nine societies that make up the Federation of British Artists exhibit around 3,000 works of art on our walls every year.


The Establishment of the Federation of British Artists

The history of how the Federation of British Artists was founded is a history of changes in the arts. Many of the Societies that make up the Federation were originally founded as alternatives to the Royal Academy when the Academy dominated the UK art market – if your work wasn’t accepted to be shown at the Royal Academy, there wasn’t really anywhere else to show it. Groups like the Royal Society of British Artists (founded 1823) and the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours (founded 1831) offered artists an alternative venue to show their work and spend time with like-minded artists.

By the middle of the 20th century, the art gallery scene in London and the UK was very different. There were many galleries and spaces where artists could exhibit and sell their works, which meant that these Societies maintaining their own galleries and premises became much less important.

In 1961, many of these Societies joined forces and pooled their resources to create the Federation of British Artists. By this time, art itself had changed, with abstraction and conceptual pieces being the style in favour. The Societies making up the Federation focus on figurative and representational art, so the function has changed somewhat from being one of only a few places to exhibit to specialising in exhibiting representational work. 

More on the History of the Federation of British Artists