National Portrait Gallery Celebrates Scottish Athletes In Edinburgh

The printed panels on large specially-designed outdoor pods of highlights from the National Portrait Gallery/BT Road to 2012 project, the largest photographic commission in the London gallery’s history, and part of the Cultural Olympiad, can be seen at Edinburgh’s Mound Precinct from Friday 1 June until 8 July 2012.
Having won gold, with Anna Watkins, this weekend in the double sculls at the 2012 World Cup in Lucerne, Glasgow-born Katherine Grainger is Britain’s most successful oarswoman. She took up rowing at Edinburgh University in 1993 and competed internationally for the first time in 1997. In 2009 Grainger won silver in the women’s single sculls at the World Rowing Championships. At the finals of the first Rowing World Cup in 2010 she won gold in the double sculls with Watkins, and an hour later won a second gold in the quadruple sculls. Grainger is also working towards a doctorate studying homicide. With six world championship titles and three Olympic silver medals she is aiming for gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Glasgow-born Emily Maguire and Laura Bartlett are shown in a photograph by Anderson & Low of the GB women’s hockey team, currently ranked fourth in the world. Coming together solely to compete at the Olympic Games, London 2012’s women’s hockey squad brings together 29 players from England, Scotland and Wales, all of whom compete under their own flags in the intervening three years. Both Katherine Grainger and the Team GB women’s hockey players are photographed at National Sports Centre, Bisham Abbey.
Also included in the exhibition is a selection of work by Scottish-born photographer Finlay MacKay (b.1972) including dramatic photograph of double gold medallist at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, Eleanor Simmonds with her trainer Billy Pye, on the starting block at the Wales National Pool in Swansea, Phillips Idowu with his coach Aston Moore at Birmingham High Performance Centre, and the Taekwondo champion
Aaron Cook and his family photographed in action practising outside his Manchester home. Among his other portraits on display are Olympian gymnast Louis Smith, wheelchair racer David Weir, top triathlete brothers Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee and Paralympic Wheelchair Rugby players Mandip Sehmi and Andy Barrow.  
Finlay MacKay (b.1972) was born in Scotland and studied fine art photography at Glasgow School of Art (1992–96) working with the inspirational American photographer and teacher, Thomas Joshua Cooper.  After graduating, MacKay moved to London to work as a photographer’s assistant, spending three formative years with Elaine Constantine. MacKay’s portfolio includes sport and portraits as well as complex advertising productions that draw on graphic novels and the work of contemporary artists, such as the Scottish painter Peter Howson.
The exhibition, made possible by London 2012 partner BT, includes large-scale portraits of Jessica Ennis, Victoria Pendleton, Tom Daley, David Weir, Seb Coe and Danny Boyle. The exhibition was brought to Edinburgh with assistance from National Galleries Scotland and The City of Edinburgh Council. 

As well as photographs first seen at the National Portrait Gallery in exhibitions held there over the previous two summers, Road to 2012: Setting Out (2010) and Road to 2012: Changing Pace (2011), the touring exhibition also includes exciting new portraits by the photographers currently working on commissions for this summer’s final London exhibition Road to 2012: Aiming High. The open-air exhibition continues its British tour to Birmingham on 13 July 2012.
These include Anderson & Low’s portrait of gymnast Beth Tweddle with team colleagues and Jillian Edelstein’s photograph of Jan Matthews, who as Head of Catering, Cleaning and Waste for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) is responsible for the world’s largest peacetime catering operation.
The final Road to 2012: Aiming High exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, London, opening 19 July, is part of the London 2012 festival, the spectacular 12-week celebration running from 21 June until 9 September 2012 bringing together leading artists from across the world with the very best from the UK.
All three tour venues (it has also been displayed at Cardiff) have connections with sitters and photographers on show. Brian Griffin’s portraits include former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone and London 2012 Ambassadors Denise Lewis and Jonathan Edwards. Photographer Bettina von Zwehl’s work for the tour includes Olympian diver Tom Daley, heptathlete Jessica Ennis and Olympian cyclist Victoria Pendleton.
Sitters for photographer Emma Hardy include LOCOG chair Seb Coe, Olympic Games Opening Ceremony Artistic Director Danny Boyle and his team, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison and world renowned author and former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo.
Made possible by the support of BT, the National Portrait Gallery/BT Road to 2012 project, part of the Cultural Olympiad, represents an insight into contemporary approaches to photographic portraiture in the UK. The Gallery invited seven British-based photographers to contribute to the project. They were asked to work on location, in places that were relevant to the sitter’s role in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Launched in 2009 the project presents high-profile leaders and those less well-known who are working and training behind the scenes across the UK. It introduces the visionary figures who conceived London’s bid to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the people responsible for designing and delivering the Olympic Park and the men and women with the enormous challenge of staging London 2012. The portraits feature the athletes at the heart of the event – World Champions, Olympians and Paralympians as well as those aspiring to be selected for Team GB for the first time.
A specially designed mobile website will enable visitors to access video interviews with photographers and sitters on their mobile phones, with QR codes on the panels linking though to these.
Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘Thanks to BT this tour to the heart of three major British cities means that these extraordinary images – highlights of the National Portrait Gallery/BT Road to 2012 project – of inspirational people involved in London 2012 can be enjoyed for free by hundreds of thousands of people.’
Suzi Williams, Director BT Group Marketing and Brand, says: ‘From the very start of our London 2012 journey we’ve believed that the Games are about more than just sport – that’s why we’re proud to be a Premier Partner of the Cultural Olympiad. Our Road to 2012 project with the National Portrait Gallery creates a legacy for the nation – a celebration of the people at the heart of the Games. That’s why taking the portraits on tour is so important – they belong to the nation and we want to give as many people as possible the chance to see them.’

Ruth Mackenzie, Director, Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival, says: ‘The National Portrait Gallery/BT Road to 2012 project is a wonderful record of the range of people working to make London 2012 a huge success, and it is great that audiences can see Road to 2012 exhibitions for free in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Birmingham and, of course,  London.’

Stunning open-air exhibition tour of large photographs of athletes and key London 2012 figures on view at The Mound Precinct, Edinburgh from Friday 1 June 2012
Edinburgh, Mound Precinct: 1 June – 8 July 2012
With thanks to National Galleries Scotland and The City of Edinburgh Council
Admission Free 

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