October 30 - A major new project between BT and the National Portrait Gallery was launched today by Sebastian Coe and Dame Kelly Holmes to create a photographic record of the people across the country making the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics happen.
The three-year collaboration between the National Portrait Gallery and BT, the official communications services partner for London 2012, will create 100 world-class photographic portraits celebrating the people around the UK, both high-profile and those behind the scenes.
BT, also announced today as a Premier Partner of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, is providing the funding for this project, making it possible for the National Portrait Gallery to undertake the ambitious programme of commissions between now and spring 2012.
The first group was unveiled today at the National Portrait Gallery and the portraits depicted some of those who conceived and won the bid for London and some of the men and women now designing and delivering the Olympic Park infrastructure and other London 2012 venues.
Brian Griffin, an internationally renowned photographer, has been commissioned for the first body of work.
Griffin’s images draw from classical sculpture, 19th century symbolism and B-movies to create photographs of great strength and stillness.
Shot on locations that range from the Olympic Park to the original 2012 offices at the time of the winning bid, he uses the formal qualities of studio portraits to convey both dynamism and reflection, all the more remarkable since the photographer’s choice of composition is not determined until meeting his subjects at the sittings.
The first commissioned portraits include Jonathan Edwards and Denise Lewis, who won the triple jump and heptathlon respectively at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and were high-profile ambassadors during the London 2012 bid.
Coe said: "With 1,000 days to go, millions of people are already joining in on our journey to London 2012.
"The portraits we are unveiling today showcase the stories of some of the people who have already played a key role in inspiring, delivering and benefitting from London 2012.
"We are delighted that BT is partnering the National Portrait Gallery – and is today becoming a Premier Partner of the Cultural Olympiad – which is already giving millions of people a chance to be part of London 2012."
Other portraits feature Sutveer Kaur, Alex Loukos, Katie Murphy and Gurpreet Virdee, four of the 30 ‘Young Ambassadors’, who were invited as members of the London 2012 delegation to the final stage of winning the bid in Singapore, Sir Keith Mills, who was chief executive during the campaign and is now the deputy chairman, and Sir Craig Reedie, one of Britain's three members of the International Olympic Committee.
Others to take part include Olympic Park master-planner Jason Prior, the President of EDAW/AECOM, who is photographed in his office together with Olympic Development Authority (ODA) Director of Design and Regeneration, Alison Nimmo, Mike Dobriskey, a member of Olympic Park decontamination team, who is portrayed on-site with his daughter, the 2009 World Championship1500 metres silver medallist Lisa Dobriskey, and Steve Deeble, Antonn Russek, Dave Skerritt and Clare Staveley, engineers working on soil cleaning, a key part of the sustainability promise for the Olympic Park
These six portraits will be on display at the Gallery for one week from today until November 5.
Further annual commissions from high-profile and emerging photographers will document sporting aspiration and performance as well as the staging and legacy of London 2012.
The portraits will form a lasting record of the Games accessible to the public for many generations to come.
Confirmed sitters for 2010 include Paralympians Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson and Ade Adepitan, both sports ambassadors on the bid team.
Construction industry apprentices whose employment skills have been transformed by the legacy promises of the bid will also be represented.
Each subsequent phase of the Project will be displayed free to the public at the Gallery in the summers of 2010, 2011 and 2012.
The final display in summer 2012 will overlap with the staging of the Games and will include a larger retrospective showing of highlights of all the commissioned work.
An integrated participation programme for people living and working in the five Olympic Host Boroughs will explore the contributions and views on the vision and legacy of London 2012 in their local areas, resulting in display and interpretation material.
The Project website will launch in summer 2010 and visitors will be able to track and interact with the project through video and interviews and follow the commissioning process through a regular blog.
Website visitors will be able to view new portraits, participate in debates and, add comments and ideas, as they join the journey on the road to London 2012.
Griffin said: "What an honour it is for me to be chosen to launch this exciting project, affording me the opportunity to leave a legacy of photographs of the people that have both brought and are delivering the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games."
Sandy Nairne, the director of the National Portrait Gallery, said: "The launch of this ambitious project, made possible by BT, is an important moment for the National Portrait Gallery.
"It focuses on inspirational figures who have brought the Games to London and are now building the Olympic Park."
Suzi Williams, the Director of Group Marketing and Brand, BT, said: "As the official communications services partner for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, we believe our role is not just to install the communications services to deliver the most connected Games ever; it’s also to help tell the story of the Games - to engage the nation with the people and places at the heart of the London 2012 story.
"This fantastic project will ensure that London 2012 is documented for generations to come – and we're really proud to be making this possible."