The Queen’s Birthday Honours list was published on 11th June 2021, in which over 1,000 individuals were celebrated for their service to the country. The list, which is the most ethnically diverse list to date, with some 15% of recipients coming from an ethnic minority background, acknowledges the considerable contribution many professionals from the art world have made.
Artists who received awards included sculptor Professor Phyllida Barlow, who has taught at London’s Slade School of Fine Art for over 45 years. Barlow became a Royal Academician in 2011, and represented Great Britain at the 2017 Venice Biennale. Potter and writer Edmund de Waal was also recognised, receiving a CBE for his services to the arts. De Waal, who said he was left “flabbergasted” after being told he would receive the award, has long since advocated for the arts. He said he was “very grateful that the things I have done over the last decades have been noticed”, and that he has always been “evangelical about making things by hand and also about talking about them, about advocating for that in our culture”. Sculptor Veronica Ryan received an OBE, just shortly after her solo exhibition, Along a Spectrum, at Spike Island in Bristol opened in May. Renowned documentary photographer Martin Parr was made a CBE.
Arts professionals were also celebrated in the recent honours. Martyn Featherstone, a longstanding lecturer at the Northern School of Art in Middlesbrough, received an MBE for his services to further education. Featherstone, who is due to retire in July, was surprised and happy to receive the news that he would be honoured, saying: “I do not have any words to describe how I feel. For me, the recommendation is a huge thank you for over 37-years of doing a job that I love and will miss.”
Peter Lawson, founder of Arts for Rutland, received an MBE for his services to the arts and community. Lawson campaigned to change the way in which the arts were viewed in Rutland, and stated: “I’ve done a lot for Rutland, I think, so it’s nice to have that recognised in this way although of course you don’t do it for the recognition.” David Bryan, who has also worked in the arts charity sector and is currently chair of Battersea Arts Centre, Brixton House and Voluntary Arts, received a CBE for his services, as did Andrew Hewish, the founder and volunteer director of the Centre for Recent Drawing.
Some of the other recipients in the field of the visual arts included the gallerist Sadie Coles, who received an OBE; Emma Pell, Director of Arts, Heritage and Tourism in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, who was recognised for her services to heritage and the arts during COVID; and Frances Runacres from the Arts Council England.