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Polly Borland on Germaine Greer

In their own words

Recorded 2017

Polly Borland on Germaine Greer
Audio: 2 minutes

There were all sorts of photos of Germaine through the years of her naked and, you know, in controversial poses. And anyway, I got there, and I think in the back of my mind I thought it’d be great to get her naked, but I thought there’s no way she’s going to do that. And she’s still beautiful, very Amazonian kind of woman. Every time I went somewhere to photograph, I tried to look for the most simple area in the house. Nothing really appealed to me and then I went into her bedroom, and she said ‘Oh well of course you can photograph me in here’ and she said to Jenny my assistant ‘Well of course I’d never be clothed in my bedroom; I’d have my clothes off.’ And so Jenny came through to me and she went ‘She wants to take her clothes off’ and I’m like, wow, I’ve thought I’ve hit the jackpot, this is amazing. It was her idea, not mine, she took her clothes off, she’s happy to do it, totally consensual.

The Sun or one of the tabloid English press got a hold of the picture and published it. And she said ‘Well I want to give it to The Sun for the page three girl section which was the notorious boobs, naked breasts. But at that point we were suing the other tabloid newspaper for using the photo without my permission. So we couldn’t then let The Sun use it even though that would have been really funny. So we said ‘Look, no, we can’t do it.’ And she was the one from wanting us to give it to The Sun or sell it to The Sun or whatever. So I think she got a little bit annoyed that we said no we can’t do that because it’s going to take away from the court case. Anyway, and then the next time I read anything that she said about the photo she’s completely slamming the photo. So like, you know, it’s awful, it’s this, it’s that, you know, she manipulated me. And I just thought, ‘Oh I can’t be bothered with this.’

Acknowledgements

This recording was made during interviews for the National Portrait Gallery's Portrait Stories series.

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Polly Borland's photograph of The Queen was commissioned by Buckingham Palace as part of a series of high profile celebrations to mark the Golden Jubilee.

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This article examines the photographic portraiture of Polly Borland.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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