1948 Olympians

Edwin Bowey, 1948 Olympic Wrestler

What a summer 2012 was!

For over six years, I’d rather slowly been documenting some of the remaining members of the 1948 British Olympic team. The project started in around 2006 or 2007 when I was commissioned by London Borough of Waltham Forest to photograph people with memories of the last London Olympics. Through this project I heard that there had been a very famous swimmer from the borough who’d taken part in the Olympics that year. I pursued this and asked that he should be included in the project for the Council, even though the sportsman had long since left the borough.

Following this, I rather rashly phoned the British Olympics Association and told them about a project idea, and surprisingly they gave me the phone number for another Olympian. Looking back on it, I think they’d been surprised by my request, and hadn’t yet got a policy in place for dealing with these enquiries, I think later they were quite overwhelmed with the response from the media.

At first I approached the Guardian, and they loved the story and later published it – they commissioned me to track down some further Olympians as the ones I’d initially found were very London-based. So in 2007 I travelled as far as Scotland to photograph more ahead of the Guardian story.

Following this I became quite overwhelmed by the response, I was called by the BBC, and many other newspapers, and got stung with some publishing my images without my permission – it felt like a bit of a baptism by fire. I put the project on hold and only resumed when by coincidence I was approached by one of the Olympians relatives who happened to be a gallery director at The Hat Factory in Luton.

I had left it rather late for many galleries to take the project in time for the Olympics but did manage 7 venues along the Olympic torch route.

Meeting the Olympians has been amazing and inspiring, I recorded their oral histories and brought them together for the various exhibition openings. It was an incredible experience, and 2012 was consequently a busy and exhilarating year, starting with an exhibition opening at Scunthorpe in the March, touring to various locations and then finishing in my home town of Walthamstow.


The Standard
The Independent
BBC – also includes some oral histories
It’s Nice That
The Guardian


02 July – 30 August 2012
Rugby Art Gallery & Museum | Little Elborow Street  Little Elborow St, Rugby CV21 3BZ

London (digital version of work are on display at)

British Library as part of Olympex 2012: Collecting the Olympic Games
25 July – 9 September 2012
The British Library
96 Euston Road | London | NW1 2DB

Hackney Museum

29 May – 20 October 2012
Ground Floor, Technology And Learning Centre
1 Reading Lane | London | E8 1GQ

This exhibition is kindly funded by Arts Council England.

21 June – 21 July 2012
Tokarska Gallery | 163 Forest Road | London E17 6HE


22 June – 07 July 2012
The North Light | Brooke’s Mill | Armitage Bridge
Huddersfield | HD4 7NR


10 March – 16 June 2012
20-21 Visual Arts Centre, Church Square, Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire DN15 6TB

10 May – 21 June 2012
The Hat Factory, 65 – 67 Bute Street, Luton, Bedfordshire LU1 2EY

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Please respect the copyright in these images and only use them with my permission - thank you. Katherine