The Daily Telegraph


Queen Elizabeth II was the most portrayed human being in history. So what was she like to capture? We spoke to nine artists and photograph­ers about their experience. By Alex Diggins and Poppie Platt


‘She was a spiritual being at her core – like all of us’ CHRIS LEVINE, LIGHTNESS OF BEING, 2004

In 2004, I was commission­ed by Jersey Heritage to create a modern portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, which would signify the 800-year relationsh­ip between the Island of Jersey and the crown.

In my use of monochrome, I wanted to distil the image back to its pure essence. I was very conscious of Queen Elizabeth’s breathing and timed the camera pass with her rhythm. Somehow with her eyes closed you go deeper into the subject and into a more spiritual realm. I didn’t want anything to distract from that focus. I hope that the effect was that people felt connected, a monarch captured in an ever-changing world, distilled back to her essence, a remarkable being.

When Queen Elizabeth first came into the room she looked around at all the technology and it was a lot to take in – we had 3D scanners, cameras on tracks and so much equipment. I explained the process of making the 3D images and she asked lots of questions and seemed to be very interested in the process. When I was talking to Queen Elizabeth during the sitting, it was clear that she has developed a mechanism of being poised, nothing is given away. The late Queen was a spiritual being at her core – like all of us.

Queen Elizabeth did not make an official comment about the formal portraits but I think the fact she gave me a second sitting and two private audiences that were not originally scheduled was testament to the fact she had enjoyed the experience and respected the work.

All of the work that has been published comes from the second sitting. I have a huge amount of material, some of it highly unusual; for instance a series of the back of the late Queen’s head. Perhaps I’ll do a book one day.

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