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Thursday, 10 October, 2002, 13:11 GMT 14:11 UK
Pop art star knighted
Sir Peter Blake and Sir Paul McCartney
Sir Peter is best known for his work with the Beatles
Sir Peter Blake, one of the UK's best known artists and a leading light of the pop art movement, has officially received his knighthood.

Sir Peter travelled to Buckingham Palace to be given the honour by Prince Charles.

He was awarded his title by the Queen in this year's Birthday Honours, along with his friend Rolling Stone singer Sir Mick Jagger, who lives close to him in Richmond, Surrey.

"I'm very excited mainly because there are so few knighthoods to painters," Sir Peter said after receiving the honour.

"It's usually sculptors and architects. I'm very happy to get it on behalf of all painters. I left college in 1956 so I've had almost 50 years as a painter. That's why this is so nice."

Eclectic

He is only the third living painter with a knighthood, joining Cornish abstract artist Sir Terry Frost and former Turner Prize winner Sit Howard Hodgkin.

Sir Peter is most famous for his cover of the Beatles' 1967 album, Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Sir Peter Blake
Sir Peter's work is characterised by its bright colours

But the 70-year-old artist has also won acclaim for his eclectic collages and silk screen prints with images of Marilyn Monroe mixing with Mona Lisa.

"Sgt Pepper is the most well-known, but it's also the biggest albatross because it's all people know and they don't know about the other things," Sir Peter said.

Prince Charles performed the investiture ceremony instead of his mother, the Queen, who is on a state visit of Canada.

Sir Peter knew he was to be knighted several weeks before it was announced in June.

He kept it a secret, even from close friends, until he attended Sir Paul McCartney's wedding to Heather Mills and spilled the beans.

Enduring

The cover to the now classic Sgt Pepper album features the Beatles in brightly-coloured military uniforms surrounded by icons from history.

The image has become one of the most enduring and widely known of the last century but at the time of its creation, Sir Peter received only 200 and failed to secure further royalty payments.

Stanley Road
Sir Peter Blake designed Paul Weller's Stanley Road album cover

Throughout his career, Blake's interest in images from popular culture have infused his collages and have been central to his paintings.

And many in the art world consider Sir Peter the father of the movement as his Captain Webb Matchbox piece predates Andy Warhol's soup tin paintings.

He also went on to design the cover of the Band Aid single Do They Know It's Christmas?, the Live Aid concert poster and the cover to Paul Weller's Stanley Road album.

More recently, Sir Peter ruffled feathers in the art world when he took over as senior hanger of the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition in 2001.

He was widely criticised for his decision to shake-up the traditional show, inviting friends such as Sir Paul McCartney, Tracey Emin and designer Nicole Fahri to enter works for the exhibition.

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