Guildhall Art Gallery celebrates 20th anniversary with new acquisitions and Artist in Residence

A bronze sculpture of the comedy actor, Terry-Thomas, and a painting of The Lord Mayor’s Show parade are two of the four artworks acquired by the City of London Corporation to mark the 20th anniversary of its Guildhall Art Gallery next month.

The newly rebuilt Guildhall Art Gallery, which is owned by the City Corporation, opened on 23 August 1999 in Guildhall Yard, the site of London’s Roman Amphitheatre, and currently presents a changing display of around 250 paintings, drawings, and sculpture, as well as a programme of temporary exhibitions.

The four acquisitions will bring new diverse artists and narratives to the collection and reflects the gallery’s revised collecting policy to acquire works about London by artists who live and work in the capital, and reflect the communities that it serves.

The artworks are:

Portrait sculpture of actor Terry-Thomas, c. 1952

Ronald Moody (1900-1984)

Gift from the estate of Ronald Moody

Ronald Moody (1900-1984) is one of Britain's most remarkable Modernist sculptors. Born in Jamaica, he lived and worked in London for most of his life. His wife, Helene, worked as Terry-Thomas’ personal assistant and because of the informal day-to-day nature of her friendship and working relationship with Terry-Thomas, Ronald Moody was able to observe him, drawing out an unfamiliar and sombre aspect of the actor.

Top Shelf, 2018

Liz Johnson Artur (b.1964)

Presented by the Contemporary Art Society with support of the Friends of Guildhall Art Gallery, and the City of London Corporation

The Ghanaian-Russian photographer, Liz Johnson Artur, documents the lives of black people from across the African Diaspora and most recently, black British communities in south London. Created for Guildhall Art Gallery and inspired by its collection, Top Shelf is a photographic installation comprising 20 prints, collected together to make one complete piece and capturing moments of everyday black life, mostly, in Brixton and Peckham, over the course of a 25-year period.

12.18 and 10 Seconds, 2010

Carl Laubin (b.1947)

Purchased with the assistance of the City of London Corporation, Friends of Guildhall Art Gallery, and Library Centenary Fund

Carl Laubin’s 12.18 and 10 seconds depicts the parade in the 2009 Lord Mayor’s Show. The title refers to the military precision of the parade, which locates where each part of the procession will be at any one point in time. Carl Laubin is recognised as one of the finest painters of architectural capricci, favouring a hyperrealist style, with architecture and landscapes as his key themes. Laubin’s painting is, arguably, the modern-day equivalent of William Logsdail’s The Ninth of November, 1888 (1890) which depicts the Lord Mayor’s Show of 1888, with the Lord Mayor’s State Coach leaving The Mansion House as a large crowd looks on.

Untitled from the series ‘Correspondances’, 2001

Carey Young (b.1970)

Gift from a private collector, via the Contemporary Art Society

The artist, Carey Young, features in the centre of the photograph in a dark business suit, holding a bag, and walking back and forth among a busy crowd of commuters in central London. Her act of drawing a line in the crowd appears to mirror the daily journey of the commuters, but at a faster speed, as if displaced. Dressed like those around her in business clothes, Young explains that she strives for an identity and space among the crowds.

As part of the art gallery’s celebrations, the full price admission fee for the ‘Architecture Of London’ exhibition will be reduced on the 20th anniversary day (Friday 23 August) from £10 to its estimated 1999 admission fee of £2.50.

Graham Packham, Chairman, City of London Corporation’s Culture, Heritage and Libraries Committee, said:

“My colleagues and I are delighted to celebrate 20 years of Guildhall Art Gallery’s re-opening, during which time it has gone from strength to strength, recording its highest ever visitor figures last year.

“The art gallery prides itself on presenting a broad range of free and ticketed exhibitions, and is particularly remarkable for housing the remains of a Roman Amphitheatre in its basement and having one of the UK’s largest paintings on permanent display.”

Elizabeth Scott, the City of London Corporation’s Principal Curator of Guildhall Art Gallery, said:

“Over the last 20 years, Guildhall Art Gallery has celebrated the work of some of the capital’s most influential artists and displayed artworks spanning over 500 years of London’s rich and vibrant history.

“This anniversary is a special moment in our history, of which we are rightly proud, and by adding these four works to the permanent collection, we are helping to create a lasting legacy for the gallery’s future.”

Last month, the art gallery opened submissions for London-based fine artists to apply to become the first Artist in Residence for Guildhall, with the brief to create an outstanding piece of 2D work that focuses on ‘Celebrating City Women’ during their three-month paid residency.

The City of London Corporation, which owns and manages Guildhall Art Gallery, is the fourth largest funder of heritage and cultural activities in the UK and invests over £100m every year. The City Corporation is also developing Culture Mile between Farringdon and Moorgate – a multi-million-pound investment which will create a new cultural and creative destination for London.


Notes for Editors:

Elizabeth Scott, Principal Curator of Guildhall Art Gallery, and artists, Carl Laubin and Liz Johnson Artur, are available for interview. Please contact Andrew Buckingham (see below) for further details.

Andrew Buckingham, Media Officer, City of London Corporation

Tel: 020 7332 1452 / Mobile: 07795 333060 /


About the City of London Corporation:

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK. 

About Guildhall Art Gallery:

The first Guildhall Art Gallery was built in 1885 to display the City of London Corporation's art collection and was inspired by the success of new galleries supported by local authorities in Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds. The Victorian gallery was almost entirely destroyed by fire during heavy bombing in the Second World War on 10 May 1941. A temporary structure was built on the cleared site in 1946 for use as a ceremonial venue and exhibition space and in 1985, the City of London Corporation decided to redevelop the site and add a new Gallery on its lower levels. The architect was Richard Gilbert Scott, who had earlier worked on the Guildhall restoration and designed the new Guildhall Library and West Wing of 1974. In 1987, the remains of the original Gallery were demolished and shortly afterwards, the Museum of London Archaeological Service discovered the remains of London's Roman Amphitheatre and the building was re-designed to incorporate this remarkable piece of architectural history. The new Guildhall Art Gallery opened to the public in August 1999 and the Amphitheatre in 2002. In late 2014, coinciding with the 15th anniversary of its re-opening, the Gallery underwent a re-hang, doubling the number of paintings on display and presenting a new curatorial selection. The art gallery is also responsible for paintings, statues, and sculptures at Guildhall, Old Bailey, and The Mansion House.