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Judging panel 2011

Michael Portillo
Michael Portillo

Michael Portillo (chair of judges)
Michael Portillo was born in North London in 1953. His father, Luis, had come to Britain as a refugee at the end of the Spanish Civil War, and his mother, Cora, was brought up in Fife. She met Luis while she was an undergraduate at Oxford.

Michael attended a grammar school, Harrow County, and went to Peterhouse, Cambridge, where he gained a first class degree in History. He left Cambridge in 1975, and for a year worked for a shipping company. He moved to the Conservative Research Department in 1976, where he spent three years.

At the General Election in 1979 he was responsible for briefing Margaret Thatcher before her press conferences. For the next two years he was special adviser to the Secretary of State for Energy.

He worked for Kerr McGee Oil (UK) Ltd from 1981 - 1983. He contested the Birmingham Perry Bar seat at the 1983 Election. In 1982 Michael and Carolyn married. They had first met when they were at school.


Jim Al-Khalili
Jim Al-Khalili

Professor Jim Al-Khalili OBE is a scientist, author and broadcaster. He is a leading academic nuclear physicist based at the University of Surrey where he holds a personal chair in physics and the first University of Surrey chair in the Public Engagement in Science; he is also vice president and trustee of the British Science Association.

He has written a number of popular science books, translated into 13 languages. His latest, Pathfinders: The Golden Age of Arabic Science, is published Autumn 2010 by Penguin Press.

Jim has presented several series on television and radio, including Atom (2007), Science and Islam (2008), The Secret Life of Chaos (2010), Genius of Britain (2010) and Chemistry: A Volatile History (2010) which was nominated for a Bafta.

In 2007 he was awarded the Royal Society Michael Faraday Prize for science communication. He lives in Southsea in Hampshire with his wife and two teenage children.


Jeremy Deller

Jeremy Deller is a celebrated British artist whose work combines performance, video, sound, ephemera, and photographs. Born in 1966 in London, he studied art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art, and later undertook an MA at University of Sussex.

His work explores the cultural and political heritage of Britain and its folklore. Collaboration and participation are central to Jeremy’s  work. As he explains, “A good collaboration is like going on a long journey without a map, never knowing quite where you will end up”.

Jeremy’s work crosses many disciplines: music, social and popular traditions.  He is best-known for works such as Acid Brass and Battle Orgreave.  In 2004, he won the Turner Prize for Memory Bucket, a documentary which explores the state of Texas, focusing on two politically charged locations: the site of the Branch Davidian siege in Waco and President Bush's home town of Crawford.  Two years later, Jeremy was involved in a touring exhibit of contemporary British folk art.

He is the co-initiator of the Folk Archive, with Alan Kane.  Jeremy was appointed a Trustee of the Tate Gallery in 2007. Recent projects include the 2009 free and uniquely Mancunian Procession through Manchester city centre. 


Kathy Gee
Kathy Gee

Kathy Gee
Kathy Gee is a museums consultant and Director of Volition Associates, which works in the cultural sector to enable strategic and individual development.

An archaeologist and curator by training, Kathy was first employed by English China Clays Plc, working under an industrial sponsorship arrangement in Devon and Cornwall, before going freelance as a museum consultant in 1985. After five years working in the independent museum sector, writing and publishing, and researching landscape history for the National Trust, she became CEO of the West Midlands Regional Museums Council in 1990 and then MLA West Midlands until 2006.

Kathy has been extensively involved in the development of museum thinking and policy development at national level, serving on numerous committees and publishing extensively.

In 2006 she received the Museums & Heritage ‘Outstanding Contribution’ Awards for Excellence. Kathy is a Trustee of the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund, Deputy Chair of Governors at the University of Wolverhampton and Trustee of Avoncroft Museum of Buildings.


Charlotte Higgins
Charlotte Higgins

Charlotte Higgins is the chief arts writer for the Guardian newspaper, producing news, features, op-ed pieces, literary reviews and essays.

Her blog on culture is at

A classicist by education, Charlotte is the author of two books on aspects of the ancient world: Latin Love Lessons and It’s All Greek To Me, and is working on a book about Roman Britain, to be published by Jonathan Cape. She was awarded the 2010 Classical Association prize.

She lives in London.

Photo by Nana Varveropoulu


Lars Tharp
Lars Tharp

Ceramics historian Lars Tharp is a freelance lecturer, writer, exhibition curator and independent art consultant.  As its Hogarth Curator he was recently made ambassador of London's Foundling Museum.

He has been a regular member of the BBC's Antiques Roadshow team since 1986. He also appears frequently on radio, having devised and hosted several Radio Four series including Hidden Treasures, For What It's Worth, China on a Plate and most recently, Earth to Earth.  

Lars was a judge on the 2010 Art Fund Prize panel and has been a museum enthusiast since his early childhood in Copenhagen.   He read Archaeology at Cambridge after which he joined Sotheby’s, specialising in Chinese Ceramics and becoming an auctioneer and director of the company.

Today he is noted commentator on the artist William Hogarth - his life, times and his moral universe.  He is a visiting professor at De Montfort University (Humanities) and leads cultural tours worldwide, from China to his native Scandinavia.


Lola Young
Lola Young

Baroness Lola Young of Hornsey was a professor of Cultural Studies at Middlesex University, and is currently a writer, cultural critic, public speaker and broadcaster.

She also advises arts and cultural agencies and organisations on policy, diversity, leadership and strategic planning.

Lola has sat on the Boards of several national cultural organisations including the South Bank Centre, the Royal National Theatre and the Royal commission on Historical Manuscripts.

She has been involved in a number of judging panels including Chairing the Orange Prize for Literature. An Independent Cross Bench peer, Lola has been involved in promoting ethical, sustainable fashion.

More recently, Baroness Young was appointed to the House of Lords EU Select Committee, and as Chair of its Social Policies and Consumer Protection sub-committee.

Photo by Robert