My Favourite Painting: Anya Hindmarch

'It’s such a fresh depiction of The Queen and deservedly has become iconic. To see an image of her with her eyes closed would once have been unheard of.'

Anya Hindmatch explains her choice of Queen Elizabeth II:

‘I have long been an admirer of Chris Levine since I saw his work at a light laser installation in Greenwich. I was given this piece as a 40th-birthday present from my family. I find it so powerful and very meditative. It’s such a fresh depiction of The Queen and deservedly has become iconic. To see an image of her with her eyes closed would once have been unheard of.

It slightly spooks my children, as they think that, at any moment, she might open her eyes. When they were little, they would run past it and didn’t dare look! ’

Anya Hindmarch is the founder and chief creative officer of the eponymous accessories brand and a trustee of the Royal Academy of Arts and the Design Museum

John McEwen comments on Queen Elizabeth II:

Chris Levine was born and raised in Ontario, Canada. His fascination with light began when he saw a laser in his school physics laboratory. ‘Laser’ is the acronym for ‘light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation’. It produces single lightwave lengths, a purity not naturally experienced. A hologram, a photographic technique using lasers to create a three-dimensional image, was another inspiration.

Mr Levine attended art school in London, graduating from Central St Martins in Computer Graphics. It was the potential of the lasers used to make holograms that soon took precedence. He became a light artist, embarking on collaborative projects with major figures such as hatter Philip Treacy and singer Grace Jones, as well as institutions as diverse as Asprey jewellers and the Eden Project.

In 2004, to celebrate Jersey’s 800-year-old allegiance to the Crown, he was commissioned to make a holographic portrait of The Queen. He expected red tape and committees and was thrilled to find that, if The Queen is involved, ‘she is in control, no question about that’.

He was amazed to be asked what he wanted The Queen to wear and opted for a blue dress, a cape chosen on the day and simple diadem with a central cross. ‘I blacked out the room and had a couple of small light works, one of which was an ultraviolet cross, and a candle burning. The atmosphere was serene.’

During the arduous shoot, which required motionless exposures of eight seconds, Mr Levine spoke of his interest in meditation and urged rest between shots. He took this ‘unofficial’ shot during one such interlude. It proved to be the best.


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