Paul Floyd Blake follows Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls in Personal Best show

By Ben Miller | 16 August 2012
A photo of a young boy holding an oar while standing on a rowing boat on a river
Robert Jeffries (Kayaking)© Paul Floyd Blake, courtesy Impressions Gallery
Exhibition: Paul Floyd Blake – Personal Best, Impressions Gallery, Bradford, until September 9 2012

Five years ago, Jamaican-English photographer Paul Floyd Blake began photographing 16 young athletes. They were all hoping to compete at London 2012 – some, such as Team GB Paralympics table-tennis player Ashley Facey Thompson, made it, but others never did, sometimes foiled by social and financial pressures.

A photo of a young female swimmer in her costume sitting in the changing rooms
Rosie Bancroft (Swimming)© Paul Floyd Blake, courtesy Impressions Gallery
The sports chosen by these 13 to 22-year-olds ranged from fencing and kayaking to taekwondo and running, but Blake resolved to continue portraying them no matter how well they fared, capturing “long slogs” rather than the glory we perhaps now feel accustomed to as viewers.

“I've tried to show ordinary youngsters striving to do extraordinary things, as they move from childhood to adulthood,” says Blake, the winner of the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize in 2009.

“My photographs explore how you remain constant and unmoved in your ambition when, physically and mentally, you are going through one of the biggest transformations you are likely to go through in your life.”

  • Open 11am-6pm (8pm Thursday, 12pm-5pm Saturday, closed Sunday and Monday). Admission free.
More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
  • Back to top
  • | Print this article
  • | Email this article
  • | Bookmark and Share
Museum Crush digest sign up ad
We are culture24