At first glance, Boudica, Agrippinna, Cleopatra and Olympias (Alexander the Great’s mother) dont seem to have much in common other than being strong women accountable for a few deaths along the way. However, recently they have been joined together by a unique series of photographs entitled The Regal Twelve.
Depicting 12 diverse women from across the ages, the series of stunning, provocative, images celebrates the famous, infamous and the obscure. Award-winning Australian fine art photographer and digital artist Alexia Sinclair embarked on the project when she was studying for her Masters and was awarded a travelling arts scholarship and two postgraduate scholarships.
I come from a family of historians and we travelled in Europe when I was young, says Alexia. As I grew older, I became amazed by the history of the world.
When I started researching for this project I came across historical women I hadnt heard about and discovered rulers were not always wonderous and glorious, she continues. Plus I was really interested in the psyche of these women.
Choosing the Rulers
Choosing which twelve historical women to feature was no mean feat and involved a huge amount of research. I had to work my way through 2000 years of history after all, explains Alexia.
The Regal Twelve has taken over three years to complete, partly because of the research and partly because of intricacies involved in compiling each picture.
Sometimes Id do over 100 hours of research and find that actually only one hour was relevant to what I wanted, she says.
What was really interesting, was looking at the change in body shapes and looks throughout the different eras, adds Alexia.
The resulting images of these historical women are stunning. As described on her website, the portraitures have warrior woman-like and goddess-like qualities, each character is transformed through the incorporation of weaponry and armour into a sea of motifs and symbols designed to signify strength. This sense of warrior-woman is a quality that is suggestive of the strength of the modern woman and contemporary notions of beauty.
Tricks of the Photographer
Each picture is made up of different photographs blended to form one image. The backgrounds have been shot in a diverse range of locations, and not necessarily ancient ones, to get the components of the images Alexia wanted.
Plus, when I was photographing the models, I was a director, telling them about the history behind the character they were depicting, so they could be more like actors than just straight models, she says.
I guess Im blurring the line between painting and photography, says Alexia, who as well as making the models’ clothes, also illustrated the flowing hair onto the models’ images after the photos had been taken.
The mysteries behind historical figures will continue to inspire artists, business leaders and individuals alike. Margaret Thatcher has already been the subject of much artwork as has the late Diana, Princess of Wales. Perhaps Mati Hari or even Germaine Greer will also be the inspiration for artists in a few 1000 years time.
Ancient Female Rulers Included in the Twelve
Boudica The Celtic Queen. (AD 26 61)
Standing tall, proud and bare chested, the image predicts Boudica, the celtic Icenian Queen, in full glory and ready to lead her army into war. The horse is one of Australias top jousters while the landscape is a photo of the Hunter Valley, Australia. (See our video about Boudicca here)
Agrippina – The Poisoness (AD 15-59)
Accused of poisoning Emperor Claudius, Agrippinas weapon of choice, toadstools, are clearly depicted in the countryside. The ruins behind Agrippina, which portray her exile, are of a Roman outpost in Morocco. The more contemporary surrounding greenery is again from the Hunter Valley and the Lion, a symbol of Rome, is from a photograph Alexia took for a circus.
Cleopatra – The Seductress (69 BC 30 BC)
By modern standards, the Egyptian pharaoh Cleopatra was not classically beautiful, and its been suggested it was her mind, and probably her power, which were her main attractions. This picture shows Cleopatra as a modern day seductress, enticing men to enter her lair. The fateful asp is also shown. Alexia drew the hieroglyphed tomb wall of this picture. She photographed sand dunes near Newcastle, Australia and compressed the image to give the raked sand effect on the floor.
Olympias – The Sorceress (376 BC 316 BC)
The mother of Alexander the Great is seen here reclining on a rock under a large tree. She was a devout member of a snake-worshipping cult and according to one legend it was snakes which impregnated her with Alexander. The tree is actually in Centennial Park, Sydney, Australia, and the stone she is lying on is also in Sydney.
The other iconic women in the series include:
- Alexandra Romanov The Last Czarina of Russia (1872-1918)
- Elizabeth Bthory The Countess of Blood (1560-1614)
- Catherine the Great – The Enlightened Empress (17291796)
- Christina of Sweden – The Androgynous Queen (1626 1689)
- Eleanor of Aquitaine – The Eagle (1122 1204)
- Elizabeth I The Virgin Queen (1533-1603)
- Isabella of Spain – The Catholic (1451 1504)
- Marie Antoinette – The Extravagant Queen (1755-1793)
To see the full twelve and to buy a copy, visit http://alexiasinclair.com/the-regal-twelve.
Alexia is currently researching renaissance rulers, warlords and falconers for a similar regal twelve male series. Let us know in the comments box below who you think she should include – we’ll pass on your suggestions to Alexia!