It is truly astounding that not one noted British visual artist has been presented with an order of chivalry in this year’s New Year Honours List. An MBE however was awarded to the ceramicist Paul Cummins, along with Tom Piper a theatre designer for creating the Poppy Field, at the Tower of London, commemorating the First World War.
The lack of artists on the list is an unacceptable oversight by the current Honours committees, which are made up of senior civil servants (‘official members’) and people who are independent of government. They just don’t seem to value the international contribution that UK artists are consistently making on a global scale.
The New Year Honours List is a British tradition marked by naming new members of orders of chivalry and recipients of other official British honours. A number of other Commonwealth realms also mark this day in this way. The awards are presented by or in the name of the reigning monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II or her vice-regal representative. The selection is made up from names nominated by government officials and now the public are also allowed to nominate. Honours have been awarded at New Year since at least 1890, the year a list of Queen Victoria’s awards was published.
This year saw a mix of creative industries personalities given a variety of awards. Here are the Artists (only1) , Designers and Art Industry Professionals honoured.
Knighted: David John Verey, CBE, Chair, The Art Fund. for services to Arts Philanthropy. Dames Barbara Mary Plunket Greene OBE, Mary Quant. for Services to British Fashion.
Commanders of the Order of the British Empire (CBE): Nicholas George Cooper, Chairman Sterling Insurance Group Ltd. For services to Philanthropy in Higher Education and the Arts, Alan Davey, Chief Executive, Arts Council England. For services to the Arts, Ms Judith Pamela Kelly, OBE, Artistic Director, Southbank Centre. For services to the Arts, Ms Diane Elizabeth Lees, Director General, Imperial War Museums. For services to Museums.
Order of the British Empire: Officers of the Order of the British Empire (OBE): Cecil Balmond. Architect. For services to Architecture, Professor Stewart Brymer. Honorary President and lately Chairman, Dundee Heritage Trust. For voluntary service to Culture and Heritage in Dundee, Ms Es Devlin, Stage and Set Designer. For services to stage and set design, Edmee Pistis, Mrs Leventis. For services to Arts Philanthropy, Ms Faith Liddell, Director, Festivals Edinburgh. For services to the Arts, Ms Justine Mary SIMONS. Head of Cultural Policy, Mayor of London’s Office. For services to Culture in London. Order of the British Empire: Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), Dr David BLACKBURN . Landscape Artist. For services to Art, Ms Ann CARTER. Project Director, Imperial War Museums. For services to Museums, Keith George CHAPMAN . For services to Arts and Culture in Hampshire, Paul Cummins . Ceramic Artist. For services to Art and First World War Commemorations, Dr Heather Mary ELGOOD . Director, Postgraduate Diploma in Asian Arts, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. For services to Higher Education and the Arts, Nicola, Mrs GEWIRTZ Founder, Lola Rose. For services to Jewellery Design, Tom PIPER Theatre Designer. For services to Theatre and First World War Commemorations, Carol, Mrs ROGERS Executive Director, Education and Visitors, National Museums Liverpool and Project Leader, House of Memories. For services to Museums.
BEM: Isabel, Mrs DE PELET Founder, Guggleton Farm Arts Project. For services to Artists in Dorset.
If a populist work like the the poppy installation, at The Tower, was rewarded at this year’s honours, the question remains, where is the recognition for the real artists in this Kingdom?