Phyllida Barlow has been given a Damehood in the Queen’s birthday honours list 2021. This special award recognises the outstanding achievements of people across the United Kingdom. Barlow, a much-loved teacher at the Slade for nearly half a century, had several illustrious students, including the YBA artist Sarah Lucas, finding success late in her career. In 2017 she represented Great Britain at the 57th Venice Biennale. Barlow was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire CBE in 2017.Other awards were presented to writer and ceramicist Edmund de Waal, CBE Photographer Martin Parr, CBE London gallerist Sadie Coles, OBE and the sculptor Veronica Ryan OBE.
Phyllida Barlow RA was born in 1944 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England. She studied at the Chelsea College of Art (1960 – 1963) and the Slade School of Art (1963 – 1966). She later taught at both schools and was until 2009 Professor of Fine Art and Director of Undergraduate Studies at the Slade School of Art. Barlow was elected a Royal Academician in the category of Sculpture in 2011. Following a long and influential career teaching in Fine Arts, Barlow has come to prominence over the past decade with many major international exhibitions. She represented Great Britain at the Venice Biennale in 2017. Other recent solo exhibitions were at the Kunsthalle Zurich, Switzerland, in 2016; the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, Texas in 2015 and the Duveen Commission at Tate Britain, London in 2014.
Edmund de Waal was born in 1964. He studied English at Cambridge University and ceramics in both England and Japan. De Waal is best known for his large-scale installations. Much of his recent work comes out of a dialogue between minimalism, architecture, and music and is informed by his passion for literature.
De Waal has had major interventions in many museums and public collections worldwide, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, Waddesdon Manor, Tate Britain and the National Museum of Wales. In September 2013, de Waal opened his first show in New York at the Gagosian Gallery. This was followed by new work for the latest Asian Pavilion at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Alongside his major commission for Turner Contemporary in Margate this year, de Waal will be installing work at the Theseus Temple in Vienna in collaboration with the Kunsthistorisches Museum. Future projects include working with the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen in Dresden and with David Chipperfield Architects in London.
Edmund is also known as a writer. His book, Hare with the Amber Eyes, published in 2010, has been an international bestseller and won many literary prizes.
Martin Parr is one of Britain’s most significant photographers, best known for his sharp eye and cheeky sense of humour. Over his thirty-year career, he has focused on capturing ordinary people doing ordinary things – at the seaside, supermarkets, village country fairs, or on holiday abroad. Often highly saturated and brightly coloured, Parr has become known as a commentator and recorder of Britain’s finely nuanced class system.
Veronica Ryan (b. 1956, Plymouth, Montserrat) moved to England as an infant, and she currently works between New York and the UK. Ryan’s solo exhibitions include The Weather Inside, Paula Cooper Gallery, New York (2019); Salvage, The Art House, Wakefield (2017); The Weather Inside, The Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh (2011); Archaeology of the Black Sun, Salena Gallery, Long Island (2005); Quoit Montserrat, Tate St Ives, Cornwall (2000); Compartments/Apartments, Camden Arts Centre, London and Angel Row, Nottingham (1995), and Arnolfini, Bristol (1987). Her work has been included in numerous group exhibitions, including Castlefield Gallery, Manchester; Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne (2019); Nottingham Contemporary (2017); Henry Moore Institute, Leeds (2009) and The Brooklyn Museum, New York (2007). Ryan has received numerous awards and prizes, including the 2019 Pollock Krasner Grant, the 2018 Freelands Award, and the Hackney Art Windrush Commission (to be unveiled in 2021).
Most honours are awarded on the advice of the Cabinet Office, and anybody can make a recommendation if they know someone they believe to be worthy (see ‘Honours nomination’). Throughout history, monarchs have rewarded those who have shown service, loyalty or gallantry with gifts or titles. Until the beginning of the nineteenth century, only members of the aristocracy and high-ranking military figures could be appointed to an Order of chivalry, but from then onwards appointments were drawn from a wider variety of backgrounds. In 1917 the Queen’s grandfather, George V, developed a new order of chivalry, called the Order of the British Empire, as a way of rewarding both men and women who had made an outstanding contribution to the WWI war effort. Nowadays the Order of the British Empire rewards service in a wide range of areas, from acting to charity work, with honours that include the well-known MBE and OBE.