Our collection is ever-evolving as we strive to deliver a diverse and exciting collection to inspire our audiences. Our most recent acquisition is Polly Borland ‘s Her Majesty, The Queen, Elizabeth II (gold) 2001.
Photographer Polly Borland (b. 1959) has emerged as one of Australia leading international artists. Key elements of her portraiture style lies within the relationship between the subject and the photographer. Her Majesty, The Queen, Elizabeth II (gold) will extend a body of work found within the HRAG Collection building on the themes surrounding identity, power, authority and performative portraiture and the construction of self. Polly Borland’s photographic practice places her at the forefront of photographic portraiture. From her aesthetic interests in the construction of beauty and unconventional portraiture of famous people, her unique style has been recognised nationally and internationally. This portrait of the Queen was produced during a period when the artist was receiving a high level of critical attention and reflects a significant moment in her practice.
Borland was one of few photographers commissioned by the Palace to take a portrait for Her Majesty’s Golden Jubilee in 2002.
“This unconventional royal portrait is one of two resulting from a very brief sitting with Her Majesty at Buckingham Palace. Borland brought two backdrops with her: a piece of floral Marimekko fabric, and a length of sparkly gold lamé-style material she’d purchased from saucy lingerie shop, Ann Summers. ‘The remit was we only got five minutes,’ Borland recollects. ‘We set up two cameras, two backdrops, one in front of the other. The minder came in and I was given this protocol. I could curtsy when she walked in, but I didn’t have to. I could bow when she walked in, but I didn’t have to. And I should call her ma’am.’ Borland was told that her five minutes would start as soon as Her Majesty was in front of the camera. The Queen arrived and ‘all of a sudden, I see this woman, who’s a lot more petite than I’d imagined, a lot more beautiful than I’d imagined, a lot richer than I’d imagined, looking very glamorous … I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t remember anything’, Borland says. With three minutes of her allotted time left – and despite ‘total panic’ – Borland shot two rolls of film using both backdrops, noting that Her Majesty was rather pleased with the glitzy, jubilee-themed gold one. The portrait is now iconic for its witty, contemporary and somewhat irreverent aesthetic, although the artist still thinks ‘it’s a miracle that I got two good photos’.”
-National Portrait Gallery, https://www.portrait.gov.au/portraits/2002.43/hm-queen-elizabeth-ii
IMAGE CREDIT: Her Majesty, The Queen, Elizabeth II (gold) 2001, edition 5 of 6, C-type photograph, 190 x 155cm. Purchased through the Horsham Art Gallery Trust Fund, 2022. Image courtesy of the artist.