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A Royal celebration: The Queen’s visit to the RA

Published 12 October 2016

Celebrating The Queen’s 90th birthday with a reception and awards ceremony, the Academy was delighted to welcome our Royal Patron to honour contributions in the fields of visual arts and architecture.

  • Last night the Royal Academy welcomed The Queen, our Royal Patron, to Burlington House as part of her 90th birthday celebrations, acknowledging The Queen’s longstanding support for the arts.

    At a private reception, The Queen was presented with a bronze sculpture of a 900-year-old oak tree from Windsor Great Park, produced by Factum Arte, who were also responsible for our Veronica Scanner project. The replica of this ancient tree symbolises both the longevity of the monarchy and the new pioneering digital technologies inspiring contemporary creativity.

    An awards ceremony followed, celebrating the achievements of five individuals across the breadth of British art, covering photography, painting, curation and architecture. Five Royal Academicians – Grayson Perry, Yinka Shonibare, Farshid Moussavi, Conrad Shawcross and Chantal Joffe – were each given the opportunity to nominate an individual who has made a significant contribution within their respective field, as practitioners, educators or both. The winners include David Adjaye, the architect behind east London’s Idea Store and Iwona Blazwick, the current director of the Whitechapel Gallery. Each award-winner received a bronze acorn from the tree.

    Speaking before the event, Christopher Le Brun, President of the Royal Academy of Arts, said: “We are delighted to receive The Queen at the Royal Academy in her 90th year. In celebration and recognition of her support for the arts, those who have made a valued contribution will be honoured.”

    Awards were presented as follows:

    David Adjaye, architect
    Nominated by Yinka Shonibare RA: “He is driven by the desire to enrich and improve the daily lives of people, his buildings are designed to meet the diverse needs of the communities they serve.

    Iwona Blazwick, curator
    Nominated by Farshid Moussavi RA: “Iwona’s intelligence, boldness and energy have not only benefited the Whitechapel. London now stands – thanks in large part to her – at the very centre of the contemporary art scene.”

    Chris Fisher, artist
    Nominated by Chantal Joffe RA: “a great painter and a great teacher. He changed the way I saw and thought about art, and allowed me to change.”

    Martin Parr, photographer
    Nominated by Grayson Perry RA: “He is a tireless champion for the art of photography and his efforts have contributed greatly in getting us all to take photography more seriously.“

    Cornelia Parker RA, artist
    Nominated by Conrad Shawcross RA: “Her work over the decades has remained so consistently strong, inquisitive, joyful - never settling into one way of thinking or making… always inventive, always poetic.”

    The Duke of Edinburgh accompanied The Queen to the event, which was also attended by representatives from the Royal Academies of Dance, Dramatic Art and Music. Other guests included luminaries from across the arts, including musicians Annie Lennox and Sir Rod Stewart, comedians Lenny Henry and David Walliams, architect Sir David Chipperfield and fashion designers Erdem Moralioglu and Alice Temperley MBE.

    Charles Saumarez Smith, Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Arts, said, “We feel privileged to be able to mark this historic occasion by honouring these individuals who have made such an impact in the arts. As the Royal Academy approaches its 250th anniversary in 2018, when we will we reveal our transformative redevelopment, we will continue to be the voice of artists and architects for many centuries to come.”

    The RA’s Royal Patron, The Queen last visited in 2012 as part of the celebrations for her Diamond Jubilee.