Born in 1949, Simon Watney is a respected and widely published art historian and independent scholar. He studied Art History at the University of Sussex and at the Courtauld Institute in London, and is a regular contributor to The Art Newspaper and The Burlington Magazine, of which he is a member of the Consultative Committee. His research interests range from prehistory to contemporary art, with a particular focus on church monuments and historical statuary. From 2000 until 2010 he was Conservation Cases Recorder of The Church Monuments Society, and he now advises the Diocesan Advisory Committee of the Anglican diocese of London on matters relating to church & churchyard monuments.
Formerly Simon was a Senior Lecturer in Art History at the University of Westminster; an MA supervisor at the Royal College of Art (London); Lecturer and joint Acting Head of Humanities at The City & Guilds of London Art School, & from 2005-2013 he taught as a sessional tutor on the generic post-graduate Contextual Studies at The University for the Creative Arts (Farnham, Surrey), of which he was the Acting Head in 2010-11. He has extensive media experience and from 1993 to 1997 was a Council Member of the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), London, and is currently a trustee of The Charleston Trust.
Centrally involved in British lesbian & gay politics since 1970, Simon was a co-founder with Mark Rowlands of Brighton GLF and has a long-established national & international reputation in the field of HIV/AIDS education and service provision, He has also been extensively involved in cultural and voluntary sector responses to HIV/AIDS both as a writer and as a founder of numerous charities and not-for-profit companies. Closely involved with London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard since the mid-1970s, and amongst other things a prolific writer in the gay press, he undertook HTLV-3 training at GMHC in New York in 1983, and in the same year attended the newly formed Terrence Higgins Trust’s inaugural Conway Hall conference. From 1985-89 he was founding-chair of the Trust’s Health Education Group, where he oversaw the development of the Trust’s pioneering HIV prevention campaigns. He has written widely and influentially on questions concerning photographic and other media representations of the epidemic, and has organised conferences and curated exhibitions on this subject.
In 1989 he was a founder-trustee of The National AIDS Manual (NAM), and in 1992 he became a founder-trustee of Gay Men Fighting AIDS (GMFA). From 1992-2000 he was Director of the Red Hot AIDS Charitable Trust, London. From 1988-95 he wrote a respected monthly column on HIV/AIDS issues in Britain’s leading gay magazine, Gay Times. In 1990 he was a co-founder of the activist group OutRage, and in 1991 he was a founder-signatory of the Red Ribbon Project in New York.
His principle publications on HIV/AIDS are Policing Desire: Pornography AIDS & The Media, (1987; 1989; 1997); Taking Liberties: AIDS & Cultural Politics, edited by Erica Carter and Simon Watney (1989); Practices Of Freedom: Selected Writings on HIV/AIDS (1994); Imagine Hope: AIDS & Gay Identity (2000). Professional awards include the 1987 Gustavus Meyer Prize for the Study of Human Rights, the University of Tennessee, for his book Policing Desire; the 1990 U.S. Words Project, Gregory Kolovakos Prize for the book, Taking Liberties: AIDS & Cultural Politics; and the 2001 Pink Paper Annual Lifetime Achievement Award, London for his ‘long campaigning for lesbian and gay rights and the rights of those affected by HIV and AIDS’. Openly HIV+, he was a trustee of the charity Crusaid from 2007 to 2010, with a particular interest in questions of AIDS and poverty in the UK. He is a member of the London-based think-tank ReShape, and from 2012 to 2015 he wrote a bi-monthly column on HIV issues in Attitude magazine.