Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Hew Locke constructed Koh-i-noor which is one of three monumental portraits of Queen Elizabeth which was created out of hundreds of plastic toys, trinkets, and disposable products of the new global economy. The blades of the toy sabers suggest might and power. Locke explores the tensions between the contemporary British society and its colonial past. The title refers to the Koh-i-noor diamond, a legendary treasure dating back to fourteenth century India. This was once the largest diamond in the world it was passed though the hands of the Sikh, Mughal, and persian rulers as a highly prized spoil of the war. In 1877 the British government declared Queen Victoria the empress of India and the Diamond entered the British Crown jewels collection. I chose this portrait because I have previously written about another Hew Locke portrait Jungle Queen I, 2003 and I thought this while also being Queen Elizabeth was different. The colors are not as bright they are very dark and instead of vines hanging down swords are sicking out. I also like that it was named after a diamond that was legendary and was eventually entered into the British crown jewels collection.

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