‘Godfather’ of British Pop Art awarded honorary degree

Sir Peter Blake received an honorary degree of Doctor of Arts from Southampton Solent University today in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the entertainment industry and for his services to art.

Southampton Solent has benefited enormously from the support given by Sir Peter. He officially opened the new School of Art and Design in June 2012 and, last year, donated two of his drawings to be auctioned by students at an illustration fund-raising event that allowed students to hire a gallery in the West End of London to launch and promote their careers following their Degree Show. He is also involved in the University’s current show, ‘Strange Folk’.

Addressing graduates at the awards ceremony, Sir Peter said: “I’m delighted to receive this honorary degree. I’ve been an artist for nearly 70 years and I’m still working: a mural at the Albert Hall; a watercolour of Eric Clapton; graphics for a new TV show; decorating the ferry that crosses the Mersey. I tell you this to encourage you, wonderful things happen as an artist and I’ve had a terrific career. Today is the beginning of your road as a professional – good luck to you all in your careers. I hope you’re as lucky, successful and happy as I’ve been.”

As an artist of international standing Sir Peter Blake, who originally hails from Dartford in Kent, is widely regarded as the ‘Godfather’ of British Pop Art and has produced iconic album covers for the Beatles, Paul Weller, the Who and Oasis.

Sir Peter has contributed significantly to the teaching of visual areas during his career and, during the 1960s and 70s taught at various institutions including St Martin’s School of Art (before it merged with the Central School of Art and Design to become Central Saint Martin’s School of Art and Design), Harrow School of Art, Walthamstow School of Art and the Royal College of Art.  

Alongside his teaching, Sir Peter continued with his own art, exhibiting in many individual and group shows, both domestically and internationally.

In 1969 Blake left London to live in the West Country where he was a founding member of the Brotherhood of Ruralists in 1975. During this period his work moved away from the glossy commercial pop art for which he is most celebrated and focused on literary and rural subjects in oil.

Sir Peter became a Royal Academician in 1981, was appointed a CBE in 1983 and awarded a further honour in 2002 when he became a Knight Bachelor for his services to art.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT THE MEDIA OFFICE ON 023 8201 3040 or press.office@solent.ac.uk

About Southampton Solent University 

Southampton Solent University offers more than 23,000 students over 200 qualifications ranging from HND to PhD, in subjects such as maritime education and training, fashion and design, media and television, music, health, sport and leisure, business, IT and technology. The University was awarded the 2013 Quality Assurance kitemark for quality and standards of teaching and learning. Solent was voted one of the most creative universities in the UK in a Which? University 2013 poll of students. Solent Business School has been awarded the Small Business Charter Award, which is supported by the Association of Business Schools and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and ‘gold approval’ by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).

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Home to around 11,000 students studying everything from HNDs to PhDs, Southampton Solent University is dedicated to enabling learners of all backgrounds to become enterprising citizens and responsible leaders, while also promoting economic and social prosperity. Winner of the Times Higher Education ‘Most Improved Student Experience’ Award 2015, Solent is a dynamic university with strong local links and a growing network of global connections – and a reputation for developing grounded, well-prepared graduates with the skills and experience employers want. Holder of the small business charter, home to one of the world’s leading maritime training academies and voted one of the UK’s most creative universities in the 2013 and 2014 Which? University student polls, Solent applies passion and innovative practice to all its courses. Spanning business and law, the creative industries, engineering and technology, maritime, media, sport and tourism, those courses deliver a practical blend of career-focused tuition and real-world experience – giving our students the tools they need to shape their own success.

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I’m delighted to receive this honorary degree. I’ve been an artist for nearly 70 years and I’m still working: a mural at the Albert Hall; a watercolour of Eric Clapton; graphics for a new TV show; decorating the ferry that crosses the Mersey. I tell you this to encourage you, wonderful things happen as an artist and I’ve had a terrific career. Today is the beginning of your road as a professional – good luck to you all in your careers. I hope you’re as lucky, successful and happy as I’ve been.
Sir Peter Blake