The Artist Who Made It Happen

The Artist Who Made It Happen

‘She sat for him 12 times’: The Nigerian artist who made a bronze sculpture of Queen Elizabeth II on the throne of Britain during her 60 years on the throne.

Prince Philip. (AP) _The New York Times_, April 11, 2006

# The artist who made it happen

_It was a perfect opportunity for a photographer to go to Africa and capture a unique view of royalty._

—Ken Kesey, interview with the author, September 2004

It was a hot July day in 1975. The Royal family were vacationing in Kenya. The Queen was pregnant. Her husband, Edward, was away on an official visit in India.

It was a perfect opportunity for a photographer to go to Africa and capture a unique view of royalty. You had to be discreet. You had to be extremely talented to pull it off.

In this case, it was Ken Kesey.

Ken Kesey was a young, shy, intense photographer who had been born in Texas, educated by the Jesuits, and who had worked in the army for seven years. He had always loved photography. Then in 1965 he decided, with no particular reason, that he would go to Africa.

Ken Kesey traveled to Zaire [now the Democratic Republic of the Congo] and spent two months as a photographer on a safari. After he had returned to the United States, he wrote to a friend in England who had known Ken since childhood. He asked if he would be interested in photographing royalty.

Edward, on the other hand, had never traveled outside of England and knew little about Africa, having never been to the Continent. Ken wrote to him, “Dear Mr. Prince, I am extremely interested in your idea. I need no encouragement to go. I know you have no such ambition. I can photograph only what I can see with my eyes. I must have a perfect opportunity.”

Ken was a shy man; Edward was a very proud and forceful man. He asked Ken to come to Number 10 Downing Street.

Ken was twenty-six years old and on his way to becoming a renowned photographer. He had already published his first book and was preparing to go on

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