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Lesley Lokko portrait
Lesley Lokko, curator of the 18th architecture biennale in Venice

Lesley Lokko recognised in King Charles III's New Year Honours list

Scottish-Ghanaian architect Lesley Lokko and British artist Grayson Perry are among the people to have been recognised in the first New Year Honours list announced by King Charles III.

Lokko, who is set to curate this year's Venice Architecture Biennale, was awarded an Office of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), the second-highest Order of the British Empire award, for her services to architecture and education.

Meanwhile, Perry was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), the highest-ranking honour, in recognition of his services to the arts.

"Architectural education matters"

The annual New Years Honours list marks the achievements and contributions of people from across the UK. This year's list was the first announced by King Charles III.

In an Instagram post, Lokko said she was "gobsmacked" by the recognition.

"More than ever, architectural education matters, and I'm deeply touched by this recognition," said Lokko.

Scottish-Ghanaian architect Lokko, who is also an academic and novelist, has taught at universities around the world, including the Bartlett School of Architecture in London, UTS in Sydney, the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Cape Town.

She founded the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg and was dean of the Spitzer School of Architecture at City College in New York, but resigned in what she described as a "profound act of self-preservation".


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A post shared by Lesley Lokko (@lesleylokko)

Alongside her work in architectural education, Lokko is the founder of the African Futures Institute in Ghana and editor-in-chief of FOLIO: Journal of Contemporary African Architecture.

She has a PhD in architecture from the University of London, and is also the author of White Papers, Black Marks: Race, Space and Architecture, as well as 13 novels. Cultural and racial identity is a theme that runs throughout much of her work.

More recently, Lokko was appointed to curate the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2023, becoming the first Black architect and fourth woman to lead the biannual event.

Perry recognised for services to the arts

Contemporary British artist Perry, who is also a writer and broadcaster, is best known for his colourful ceramic vases and tapestries.

Perry recently collaborated with London-based architects Apparata on A House for Artists – an affordable housing scheme with integrated studios for artists in east London.

Other figures in the field of architecture and design named in King Charles III's New Years Honours list 2023 are product and furniture designers Jonathan Towse Levien and Nipa Devendra Doshi of Doshi Levien.

Inderpaul Singh Johar, the co-founder of Dark Matters Laboratories, was also recognised, alongside trustee at the Architectural Heritage Fund Kathleen Elizabeth Maclean, and curator of The Hunterian Art Gallery in Glasgow Pamela Beaumont Robertson.

Previous recipients of an OBE include architects Peter Barber, Sadie Morgan and Chris Wilkinson.

Architectural designer John Pawson, illustrator Raymond Briggs and designers Es Devlin and Ilse Crawford are among the industry figures to have been awarded CBEs.

The portrait of Lokko is by Murdo Macleod.