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UNITED KINGDOM. SCOTLAND. Portraits of athletes and key figures involved in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games on view in Edinburgh
08/06/2012 14:44:55

A free outdoor exhibition on show at the heart of three of Britain’s busiest cities. Over thirty photographic images showing newly-commissioned portraits of top athletes and key figures involved in planning the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games can be seen in Cardiff, Edinburgh and Birmingham twenty-four hours a day throughout this spring and summer.

Commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery, London, working in partnership with London 2012 partner BT, Road to 2012 opened at The Mound, Edinburgh on Friday 1 June 2012. Photographs of Scottish athletes – oarswoman Katherine Grainger and Team GB women’s Hockey players Emily Maguire and Laura Bartlett – are on display in Edinburgh.

Having won gold, with Anna Watkins, last 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. 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.

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.

Learn more at

Image:  Soil Engineers (Antonn Russek, David Skerritt, Stephen Deeble, Clare Staveley) photographed by Brian Griffin 5 October 2009, Olympic Park, London. Courtesy


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