The Merchant Adventurers’ Hall celebrates its first Woman Governor with a specially commissioned photo portrait


In 2022, the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall appointed Dr Delma Tomlin, DUniv, MBE as its Governor, the first woman in the role since its foundation in 1357. Oil paintings of past Governors are on display around the Hall and this photo portrait will be an exciting new addition, moving away from traditional oil paintings to an inspiring digital work. The completed portrait will go on display in the Great Hall this Easter.


For the photo portrait, The Merchant Adventurers’ Hall commissioned Ashley Karrell to work with them to create this highly original work. Karrell is an award-winning director, producer, photographer and artist. He is known for the hybrid film #BlackBoyJoyGone, which was nominated at the 2023 Grierson Awards; the multi-award-winning dance theatre film DISPLACED and is the first black portrait photographer commissioned for the permanent collection of the stately home of Harewood House, with the series called Missing Portraits, featuring Arthur France MBE and David Harewood OBE.


Dr Delma Tomlin said: “It was such an honour to take up the role of the first female governor of this venerable organisation, which has a 660 year history. To reflect this new direction, we decided to take a different approach to commemorate the occasion and commissioned the award-winning Ashley Karrell to work with us. We hope that visitors will be as excited as we are by this historic photo portrait.”


Ashley Karrell added: “I’m truly grateful to Dr Delma Tomlin and the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall for the opportunity of creating this significant portrait. My art is captivated by stories about human experiences, the exploration of community, and social engagement. This image is one of one, what we created speaks of history, representation, celebration and triumph. To be a small part of the 660 year history of this institution gives me joy and I hope the audience will feel strength and humility within the eyes of our first female governor. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your story.”