Forty new pictures of London 2012 stars go on display at National Portrait Gallery

Ruth Hazard | 19 July 2012
Mark Cavendish, Photographed by Anderson & Low, February 24 2012, Essex© Anderson & Low – National Portrait Gallery/BT Road to 2012 project
Exhibition: Road to 2012: Aiming High, National Portrait Gallery, London, until 23 September 2012

When the National Portrait Gallery was founded in 1856, its remit was to collect portraits of famous British men and women who have “created history”.

One-hundred-and-fifty-six years later, the gallery’s latest exhibition captures the faces making history today with a display honouring the people involved in the momentuous London 2012 Olympic Games.

This is the site’s largest commission to date, made up of more than 100 photographs and the labour of three years' work. It features portraits by Anderson & Low, Nadav Kander and Jillian Edelstein, each tasked with depicting a different group of Olympic contributors.

Boris Johnson, photographed by Jillian Edelstein, 13 Jan 2012, City Hall, London© Jillian Edelstein National Portrait Gallery/BT Road to 2012 project
Anderson & Low shot the athletes and sports support teams, including cyclist Mark Cavendish, the Men’s Rowing Eight and team administrators Maggie Neto and David Tanner.

Commissions Manager for the project, Anne Braybon, credits the formal style of the portraiture with creating a “timeless tableaux of Olympic and Paralympic aspiration”.

Jillian Edelstein’s cinematic locations and carefully crafted lighting tell the story of people involved behind the scenes in the administrative, artistic and cultural arenas.

Mayor Boris Johnson, artist Anish Kapoor and director Stephen Daldry all make an appearance in the Edelstein collection, as well as an array of others who have worked on everything from the planning of the opening ceremony to the catering and transport operations.
 
Nadav Kander has produced two different sets of portraits for the display. Rising Stars is Kander’s black and white study of talented young athletes, while Torch Bearers features ten life-size cut-out photographs of Olympic torchbearers shown floating above the ground, apparently stepping out in front of the gallery walls.

Diana Gould b.1912 Photographed by Nadav Kander, 16 April 2012, London

© Nadav Kander National Portrait Gallery/BT Road to 2012 project
These new portraits will be shown alongside 25 other pictures by Brian Griffin, Bettina von Zwehl, Finlay McKay and Emma Hardy, who were commissioned for the National Portrait Gallery/BT Road to 2012 project which documents the Olympic preparations and has been shown at locations across the UK.
 
“[The display] celebrates exceptional British sportspeople, and some of the crucial figures working behind the scenes – whether they be coaches and managers or soil engineers, architects or the producers of the key ceremonies,” says Sandy Nairne, the gallery's Director.

“It features outstanding photographic portraits that convey the determination, skill and mental prowess of those working at the highest level of international sport.”

  • Open 10am- 6pm (9pm Thursday and Friday). Admission free. Visit the exhibition online for interviews and behind-the-scenes photos.
More pictures:

Fran Halsall b.1990 Photographed by Anderson & Low, 21 Mar 2012, Loughborough High Performance Centre© Anderson & Low National Portrait Gallery/BT Road to 2012 project
Maggie Netto b.1962 and David Tanner b.1947 Photographed by Anderson & Low, 31 Jan 2012, The Old Rowing Tank, GB Rowing Headquarters, London© Anderson & Low National Portrait Gallery/BT Road to 2012 project
Fiona Banner and Bob & Roberta Smith, photographed by Jillian Edelstein, April 3 2012, E. Pelliccis café, London© Jillian Edelstein National Portrait Gallery/BT Road to 2012 project
Philip Sheppard, photographed by Jillian Edelstein, October 19 2011, Suffolk© Jillian Edelstein National Portrait Gallery/BT Road to 2012 project
Lawrence Okoye, photographed by Nadav Kander, December 15 2011, London© Nadav Kander National Portrait Gallery/BT Road to 2012 project
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