Simon Wallis, Director of The Hepworth Wakefield, awarded OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List 2015

Simon Wallis OBE

Simon Wallis, Director of The Hepworth Wakefield has been awarded an OBE for services to the arts in the Queen's Birthday Honours List 2015. The award recognises his contribution to the visual arts over the past seven years at The Hepworth Wakefield.

Since July 2008, Simon has overseen the development of The Hepworth Wakefield, which opened to the public on 21 May 2011, just over four years ago. As the gallery’s first employee, his initial years in Wakefield were spent developing the vision, business plan, new gallery team and programme, while advocating for the project regionally and nationally. He worked closely with David Chipperfield architects to ensure that the building would fulfil the needs of its key exhibits - the Hepworth Family Gift, the Wakefield Permanent Art Collection and a changing programme of ambitious contemporary art. Alongside this an award-winning learning programme was developed.

Simon provided the artistic vision and leadership for the organisation as it expanded and moved into the new gallery and oversaw its transfer to become a charitable trust. Most recently he led an ambitious project to re-purpose and re-invigorate Caddies Wainwright Mill, a 19th century former textiles mill on the River Calder adjacent to the gallery. Begun in spring 2013, the 600 square metre ground floor of this historic building opened to the public as The Calder in August 2013, a new art and events space that extends The Hepworth Wakefield's existing offer.

Simon plays an active role on the steering committee of the Plus Tate Partnership network and is a founding member of the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle that comprises The Hepworth Wakefield and near neighbours, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, The Henry Moore Institute and Leeds Art Gallery. He is also helping a founding member of a new initiative for cultural leaders in the West Yorkshire region called The Culture Club.

Simon Wallis, Director of The Hepworth Wakefield said: “I’m absolutely delighted to receive this especially at this timely moment following the gallery’s fourth birthday. I feel the credit for the OBE very much deserves to be shared among the wonderful team at The Hepworth Wakefield, as well as my friends and family, who together, have tirelessly helped to support me in developing and realising the ambitions I have for the gallery. It’s been an amazing 7 years since I first began as Director of The Hepworth Wakefield and we have many exciting plans for the next phase of our development, which I am looking forward to seeing come to fruition.”

David Liddiment, Chair of The Hepworth Wakefield said: “I would like to congratulate Simon and the gallery on this honour that recognises his leadership in bringing the dream of The Hepworth Wakefield to reality. Simon has a great passion for, and understanding of, the social and economic benefits of culture-led regeneration and I am delighted that his contribution to The Hepworth Wakefield and the visual arts has been acknowledged in this way.”

Simon Wallis was appointed Director of The Hepworth Wakefield in July 2008, which opened to the public in May 2011. He was previously Director of Chisenhale Gallery in East London, Senior Exhibitions Organiser at the ICA, London; Curator at Tate Liverpool; and Curator at Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge. He studied fine art at Chelsea School of Art and subsequently at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, USA and gained an MA in Art Gallery and Museum Studies at the University of Manchester.