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Queen honours leaders in fields of visual arts and architecture

Published 11/10/2016

The royal couple will attend an awards ceremony at the Royal Academy of Arts
The royal couple will attend an awards ceremony at the Royal Academy of Arts

The Queen presented awards to five titans of the visual arts and architecture world as she and the Duke of Edinburgh were guests of honour at a ceremony at the Royal Academy of Arts.

The monarch, patron of the Royal Academy, gave the awards in recognition of their decades-long work in their respective artistic fields.

During the reception in central London the Queen herself was presented with a large bronze replica sculpture of one of the oak trees in Windsor Great Park to commemorate her contribution to the arts in the year of her 90th birthday.

Awards were given to architect David Adjaye, Whitechapel Gallery director Iwona Blazwick and photographer Martin Parr.

Others receiving prizes - a bronze acorn from the tree presented to the Queen - were artist Cornelia Parker and Chris Fisher, an artist and teacher at the Royal College of Art and Goldsmiths.

Each was nominated by an eminent member of the Royal Academy of Arts - artist Chantal Joffe, architect Farshid Moussavi, ceramicist Grayson Perry - who was resplendent when he met the Queen in a silk shift dress with a comical face on, underneath a pink and red chiffon over-dress matched with enormous purple wedge shoes - artist Conrad Shawcross, the youngest living member of the academy, and fellow artist Yinka Shonibare.

Among the guests were Sir Rod Stewart, who received his knighthood from the Duke of Cambridge at Buckingham Palace earlier on Tuesday, and his wife Penny Lancaster.

The pair chatted with Sir Lenny Henry, actor Richard E Grant and comedian David Walliams, who brought his mother Kathleen to the event and was keen to introduce her to Sir Lenny and Sir Rod.

Welcoming the Queen and guests at the ceremony, Christopher Le Brun, president of the Royal Academy of Arts, said: "This awards ceremony recognises five individuals who make a valuable contribution as practitioners or educators in the fields of visual arts and architecture.

"The list of award winners shows the great breadth of achievements during Her Majesty's long reign, during which time the arts have been significantly transformed and are now more prominent in national life and more internationally successful than ever before."

After the presentation the Queen and Duke mingled with guests, among them senior members of the Royal Academy.

Perry said it was a "lovely" event, describing the academy as almost a "trades union" of artists, a meeting place of tradition and innovation.

Speaking about the impact of this summer's political upheaval on art and culture, he added: "Brexit was about culture, wasn't it? Culture isn't just what people in Islington love, culture is what everybody, whatever their views, what they do - what telly they watch, what clothes they wear, what music they listen to, what football they go to - that's all culture.

"It's not just something that people in posh London do - there's people here that go to football matches and there's people here that watch Strictly Come Dancing and Bake Off, I'm sure there are.

"We've all got a guilty pleasure, so I think that the idea of culture as this harsh, unavailable thing, it's not. It's what everybody does and there's a smooth spectrum of it that goes right through society, whether it be from the trashiest TV to the most difficult foreign language novel or modern contemporary classical music."

The newly-knighted Sir Rod chatted and laughed with his wife and Walliams before the couple went off to admire the artworks in the galleries.

He revealed he is a great fan of high art, saying: "I am a big collector of art - I collect pre-Raphaelite and Victorian paintings and some of them have the 'RA' after their names in the corner, so it was interesting for me to come."

Sir Rod revealed he hopes to have a private showing at the academy this week, saying: "I'll melt - I love this stuff so much."

His wife joked that the Queen had asked Sir Rod about how well the Duke of Cambridge had performed when he knighted the singer at Buckingham Palace earlier on Tuesday.

Lancaster said: "She said, 'I hope he did a good job - did he do it properly?' She just wanted to be sure, as she wasn't there, someone was doing it properly. It was incredible."

And she revealed that their young son, five-year-old Aiden, had a tear in his eye because he was "so proud of daddy".

Mr Parr's wife Susan received the award from the Queen as he was unable to attend the ceremony.

Press Association

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