Stuart Sale and The Queen Mural
Following the announcement of Queen Elizabeth II’s passing, Sydney-based artist, Stuart Sale, has memorialised the former monarch on the walls of Marrickville.
Artist Stuart Sale poses with his portrait of Queen Elizabeth II
Image Credit: Dean Lewis, Sydney Morning Herald
For many of us, the Queen was the only British monarch in our lifetime and will be the only female sovereign for the next three generations.
Sale, who hails from London, recognised the monumental moment of her death and decided to commemorate the significant event.
“The last few days of the Queen’s passing are arguably the most significant of our lifetimes, and I felt it was important to document as an artwork,” Sale said.
The iconic portrait of her majesty was taken by society photographer Dorothy Wilding only 22 days after her accession. It was the first photoshoot of the new Queen. The images from that session were spread across the Commonwealth and printed on stamps and coins for decades. Sale explains why he chose to paint the queen in the infancy of her reign:
“I saw the image as a young woman, a human being rather than a monarch, at the start of a huge and daunting job or journey in a male-dominated world. I thought my audience and viewers could possibly connect with this as it’s on the street. I was viewed by passers-by and members of the public — people with ordinary jobs and lives, working hard to continue living essentially.
I hoped I could create a connection or a parallel. I’m not sure if it was successful, but that’s why I chose it.”
The Queen first visited Australia as the reigning monarch in 1954 with her husband, Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh. She would visit Australia on sixteen occasions across her lifetime, the last in 2011.
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh attend a gathering of Sydney school children in 1954
Image Credit: State Archives and Records, NSW Government
Sale’s artwork has received both positive and negative acclaim, some praising the piece and its subject, while some see it as “royal propaganda”. Sale, who has been painting street art for over ten years, remains unphased:
“Reception has been, in the main part, positive. When painting the piece, passers-by were very happy, taking photos and commenting. Since it has been on display, there has been a lot of love. And a bit of hate, of course. I’ve stopped looking at the comments now it’s everywhere.
People are entitled to their opinions, so I’ll keep out of it. I can take the criticism, but it wasn’t my intention to offend.”
The portrait, which took Sale two-and-a-half hours to paint on the evening of Friday 9 September, consists of seven layers of paint.
“My process consists of choosing my image, breaking it down on my iPad into a range of tonal layers going from dark to light. This process takes about an hour, depending on how many layers I’m using — more layers, more detail. I then project the layers onto the wall and paint each layer in its tonal value or colour.
The work is done digitally before I arrive on the street. Painting is more of a performance or installation. I love working in this way as I’m an obsessive planner and need to know it will definitely work.”
This is not the first time that Sale has painted murals of passed public figures. Earlier this year, he painted a portrait of Shane Warne following the cricketer’s death, which can be seen in Marrickville's Faversham Lane. His work has become a staple part of the Marrickville community.
“I feel my role as a street artist is to document the times, events, icons etc., so I hope the people of Marrickville are happy to pass by my work. I hope they enjoy it. I make art for the public. It belongs to them. It’s free for them to enjoy, and I will continue to work in the area and in this way.”
If you want to see the artwork for yourselves, grab a coffee from one of Marrickville’s many cafes and head down Sydenham Road to take in the piece.
By Isabella Edwards