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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 both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Clive James, 1999

Polly Borland

type C photograph on paper (image: 48.8 cm x 38.6 cm)

Clive James AO CBE (1939–2019), writer, broadcaster and critic, grew up in Sydney, attending Hurstville Opportunity School, Sydney Tech. High School and the University of Sydney before leaving Australia for Cambridge. Working toward his MA in literature, he became president of the Footlights revue team that included Germaine Greer and Eric Idle. He published the first of many non-fiction works in 1974. His subsequent books included three best-selling volumes of autobiography, four novels, and many collections of travel essays, journalism and literary criticism. After a decade as television critic for The Observer, throughout the 1980s he played the genial host of television talk shows such as Saturday Night Clive, and wrote and presented BBC and ITV specials documenting absurdities of the decade. James lived in England for most of his adult life, although in contrast to other expatriates of his generation, he escaped punishment for it in the Australian press. His deep and skilful poems, which appeared in such cerebral publications as the New Yorker, the Times Literary Supplement and the New Statesman, were collected in The Book of my Enemy (2003), Opal Sunset (2007), Angels over Elsinore (2008) and Nefertiti in the Flak Tower (2012). In 2013, critically ill with leukaemia and emphysema, he saw the publication of his masterful translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2001

Accession number: 2001.53

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Polly Borland (age 40 in 1999)

Clive James AM (age 60 in 1999)

Subject professions

Media and communications

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

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On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Clive James, 1999 Polly Borland
Clive James, 1999 Polly Borland
Clive James, 1999 Polly Borland
Clive James, 1999 Polly Borland

Golden Jubilee

Magazine article by Magda Keaney, 2002

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.

Confide in Me

Magazine article by Sarah Hill, 2002

This article examines the photographic portraiture of Polly Borland.

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The National Portrait Gallery
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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 both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.