Striking new photographs of Taekwondo world number one Aaron Cook doing a flying side-kick outside his Manchester home; champion swimmer Eleanor Simmonds about to start a training session and former champion, now Director of Paralympic Integration, Chris Holmes relaxing in the water, were revealed today. The portraits were taken by Finlay MacKay and Emma Hardy, announced as the latest photographers to be commissioned for the National Portrait Gallery/BT Road to 2012 Project as part of the Cultural Olympiad.
Their work is on displayed at the National Portrait Gallery
from 25 July in Road to 2012: Changing Pace, the second exhibition in a three-year cycle funded by BT, that documents Britains medal hopefuls and key figures behind the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. In Road to 2012: Changing Pace, the portraits show top athletes in dramatic sporting poses alongside the people who have mentored them as well as those involved in the staging of London 2012 many of whom are shown out of the office in reflective moments.
Finlay Mackay photographs athletes with the trainers, coaches or family members whom they nominated as being pivotal to their sporting success. Eleanor Simmonds (b1994), 2008 Paralympic double gold medallist, is shown with her trainer Billy Pye, on the starting block at the Wales National Pool in Swansea. Aaron Cook (b1991) is exhilaratingly captured demonstrating his signature flying side kick on the drive at home with his family.
Emma Hardys portraits show the people responsible for staging the Olympic and Paralympic Games in pursuits which in some cases reflect their former sports careers. Chris Holmes (b1971), the blind director of Paralympic Integration and one of Britains most successful Paralympic swimmers, is photographed taking time out from the day job in the water.
Anne Braybon, Commissions Manager, National Portrait Gallery/BT Road to 2012 Project, says: The excitement of this project continues with these two new commissions. MacKays creatively conceived and highly crafted scenarios, depicting top athletes with their mentors, create a compelling contrast to Hardys naturally lit and extraordinarily confident images which show an intense connection with her sitters.
Finlay MacKays work for international advertising clients and leading publications singles him out as a leading talent of his generation. Born in Scotland, he moved to London after graduating from Glasgow School of Art and worked as an assistant, spending three formative years with award-winning photographer Elaine Constantine.
For his first commercial client in 2002 MacKay won three bronze lions at the Cannes advertising festival with a dynamic series of fashion shots. His portfolio is broad and also includes sport, arts, and portraiture as well as his signature and complex advertising productions that draw on the language and energy of graphic novels.
Photographer Emma Hardy is a regular contributor to leading international magazines including the Telegraph Magazine, Vanity Fair, Time, Vogue, W Magazine and the New York Times. Exceptional Youth, an earlier commission by the National Portrait Gallery, was displayed in 2006. Hardy strips back the process of photographic portraiture to the essentials: light, film in her camera, and her subject. This exacting approach requires a reciprocal trust between her and the sitter. The ensuing intimacy is a hallmark of her work.
Thanks to funding from BT, Road to 2012: Changing Pace will continue the narrative of last years exhibition Road to 2012: Setting Out. The three-year project will create up to 100 newly commissioned photographic portraits celebrating the people who will collectively make the London 2012 Games happen. Each annual phase will be displayed free to the public at the Gallery. The final display in summer 2012 will include new portraits plus highlights of all the commissioned work.
To coincide with the National Portrait Gallery/BT Road to 2012 Project, BT launched a portrait competition Everyday People on the Road to 2012 looking for the pictures and stories of the everyday people who are making a difference to the London 2012 Games. In each of the three years of the exhibition, the competition asks people to nominate someone who is contributing behind the scenes, without wide public recognition, to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. This years winner is Ian Morrissey, an aquatic biologist, who won for his work in the wetlands area of the Olympic Park. He had his portrait taken by Emma Hardy and it is being displayed at the Gallery as part of the exhibition opening in July. Last years winner was Ray Haggan, who won for his commitment to nurturing swimming in the UK.
Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, says: This important project, made possible by BT, is central to the National Portrait Gallerys programmes linked to 2012. Through these new portraits, we tell the wonderful stories of some of the exceptional people working towards the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Gallery and BT very much hope that the project inspires visitors, whether through the website or in the Gallery itself.
Suzi Williams, Director of Group Marketing and Brand, BT, says: 'The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be a once in a lifetime experience and it is important for the cultural legacy of the Games that the people at the heart of the event are celebrated and recorded. The Road to 2012 portraits will help ensure that the inspirational power of the Games can be shared with the nation for years to come. As a Premier Partner of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, we are proud to be helping to make this happen.'
Ruth Mackenzie, Director, Cultural Olympiad, says: It is great that people can see these amazing portraits at the National Portrait Gallery and also at www.npg.org.uk/roadto2012, where they can also see behind-the-scenes films and photography and contribute their own inspirational photos. This interactive project is made possible by Cultural Olympiad Premier Partner BT, who through this initiative are helping us tell the amazing stories of the extraordinary people connected to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.