The English Rose.
It started with an outdated epithet and ended with a beautiful woman who represents a place I call home today.
This image that means the most to me of the whole set. My studio came with these murals and I had it noted on my shot list to see if the Queen Elizabeth painting would work as a portrait shot. I had planned for Sophia to do a similar pose to Princess Margaret in the Cecil Beaton Dior dress image, sat with the dress flared all around and looking regal. The proportions and idea of Elizabeth looming over Sophia didn't work.
I asked Sophia sit up on the mantelpiece where she nestled in front of Elizabeth as a successor rather than a subject.
The result portrays An English Rose.
I booked Sophia aka Velvet Jones to model as I had worked with her before and knew she was professional and had the face I needed. Sophia is also a designer maker and creative from London so in this image in particular was fitting not just in looks but in identity.
To say Sophia made every image beautiful was an understatement. She bought creative energy, understanding and pure joy to the day which helped make the portraits what they are.
I understand this is very much my gaze and in truth about my own cultural identity being British and needing a way to look at it with hope and pride.
I had for so long felt shame of being English from actions of governments, those who abused power and my own unconsciousness. But in doing so I discounted all the people here who are brilliant and inspiring and just getting on. I gave too much focus to those who hate and need only allow space to those who bring hope.
This image is about Britain today and about hope.