In July 2012 my work was included in The Road to 2012 at the National Portrait Gallery. It was a three year commission started in 2009. Each year I would find and document local sports and community groups within the five Olympic borough.
Inspiring, moving and sometimes eccentric, the groups included horse riding in Waltham Forest, sailing in Tower Hamlets, homeless charities, residential homes and gardening groups – mainly volunteer-led, they all help to make our boroughs better places to live and are rarely celebrated for it.
It has been such an honour to be able to include them in one of the major Cultural Olympiad exhibitions and publications. Jim White’s review in The Telegraph really captured what myself and the amazing project team at National Portrait Gallery were trying to achieve.
- See The Telegraphs review – 19 July 2012
- Review of exhibition at The Viewtube in 2011, The Standard: Spirit of Youth in Sport – 15 August 2011
My favourite section, however, is Local Story, Katherine Green’s pictures of sporting activity within the Olympic host boroughs. And it is not all football on Hackney Marshes. Those living within the shadow of the new stadium sail, row and ride horses. Plus, in the case of Gary, a member of the Blackheath Fencing Club, twirl a foil. Staring hard down the lens, this inner-city d’Artagnan broods and bristles, his weapon at the ready for a quick thrust. You would need to be brave to take him on.
As brave as Levi, perhaps, the young pugilist at the Bethnal Green Boxing Club whose portrait is one of the few in the show to raise a smile. A picture of red-shirted determination, Levi does his best to look as warrior-like as he can while wearing a pair of over-sized boxing gloves that take up most of his arms.
It is a lovely piece, warm, inclusive, not a little inspiring. Precisely what we hope the Games will turn out to be.