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Strange and beguiling, ‘Bunny’ documents Polly Borland’s photographs of a real-life giant woman called Gwen. The book takes the viewer through an assemblage of images which explore femininity and deconstruct the idea of the Playboy bunny girl. In today’s world, peppered with cynicism and scepticism, ‘Bunny’ offers us a chance to believe again in fairytale horses, bunny rabbits, and giants.
To accompany the photographs, ‘Bunny’ also includes a seductive short poem by Nick Cave, and an eccentric modern fairytale by Will Self. Reminiscent of Lewis Carroll, these pieces reflect the delicate, bewitching narratives found in Borland’s images, where childlike innocence sits hand in paw with stark sexuality and the ethereal: “Well now, the bunny was a silly thing and not quite right. She had pink fur and her muzzle was sort of bulgy and cartoonish.”
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A leading portrait photographer before moving to the UK from her native Australia in 1989, Polly has earned her reputation for specialising in stylised portraiture and offbeat reportage. In the 90s she worked regularly for numerous UK and US publications including The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Independent and Dazed and Confused.
In 1994 she won the prestigious John Kobal Photographic Portrait Award. Her work has appeared in numerous exhibitions, and a selection of photographs from The Babies was exhibited at the South Bank’s Meltdown Festival in 1999, curated that year by Nick Cave.
The National Portrait Gallery in London and Australia have acquired a number of Borland’s photographs for its collection, and in 2000 both exhibited a solo show of her work. Powerhouse published her first book The Babies in 2001 with an essay by Susan Sontag. In that same year she was one of eight chosen photographers to photograph the Queen for her Golden Jubilee.
Borland collaborated with Lauren Child on two children’s books for Puffin, reworking the fairytales The Princess and the Pea, and Goldilocks and The Three Bears. Michael Hoppen Contemporary exhibited her Bunny project in August 2008 – a series of portraits of a giant girl called Gwen. A book of this work was published by Other Criteria that same year.
The series of photographs 'Smudge' was exhibited in Australia at Murray White Room in August 2010 and then at Other Criteria in 2011. In 2012 a survey show of Polly Borland’s work was held at UQ in Australia.