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Final portraits in National Portrait Gallery's largest ever commission, Road to 2012: Aiming High, unveiled - RowlandsModernArt.com : RowlandsModernArt.com
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Final portraits in National Portrait Gallery’s largest ever commission, Road to 2012: Aiming High, unveiled

| July 23, 2012 | Comments

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Final portraits in National Portrait Gallery’s largest ever commission, Road to 2012: Aiming High, unveiled

100-year-old Torchbearer among Portraits at Olympic Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery

Diana Gould, 100, chats with the Duchess of Cambridge, at the Road to 2012: Aiming High exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Photograph: Sang Tan/AFP/Getty Images

Diana Gould, London 2012′s oldest Olympic torchbearer at 100, has joined athletes, trainers, administrators and photographers to see the final stage of the National Portrait Gallery‘s largest ever commission.

The gallery revealed the latest tranche of photographic portraits commissioned under the banner: Road to 2012. With the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, as guest of honour, 40 works were unveiled as part of the London 2012 Festival celebrating Olympic contributions in a range of areas.

Gould looks extremely optimistic in her portrait. But then “I’m an optimistic person,” she said. “I’m delighted with the picture, I wish I looked as good as that.”

Gould is due to carry the torch in Barnet on 25 July. “I’ll be watching lots of the Olympics on the television, I’m really looking forward to it – and at my age you have to take every day as it comes, every day is a bonus.”

The picture is one of ten torchbearers represented in life-size cut-out photographs shown floating above the ground. Photographer Nadav Kander said he found an extremely skilled fret cutter – “a 70-year-old man who has worked in a curtain pole factory all his life” – to cut out the portraits.

All ten look like they are ascending. Kander said: “I was very taken by the extraordinary normality of the subjects, these are absolutely ordinary people like we all are, with amazing, poignant and very moving stories. If you think about it there’s a huge amount of our population that are extraordinary but increasingly we seem to view celebrities as different to us and I wanted these people to ascend to that position.”

Kander also took four impressive black and white photographs of rising stars – the para-cyclist Jon-Allen Butterworth; taekwondo hopeful Jade Jones; sprinter Jodie Williams and the mountainous discus thrower Lawrence Okoye.

Other photographers included Jonathan Anderson and Edwin Low who have been collaborating as Anderson Low since 1990. More formal in style, the works in the exhibition include group shots of British gymnasts and their trainers; the cyclist Mark Cavendish; triple jumper Yamile Aldama and paralympic sailor Alexandra Rickham who, because she still has 40 days until she competes, was one of the few athletes able to attend the exhibition launch.

“It’s amazing,” she said. “To be in the National Portrait Gallery is pretty mindblowing. It was taken at Portland and they got us up for a 6.30am shoot on the coldest ever day in October, we’d had beautiful days up until then – so it was pretty tough to get out there and sit still. But they have done an amazing job, they’ve captured the beautiful light of Dorset.”

In all, 40 new portraits went on display, including portraits by Jillian Edelstein of subjects including Anish Kapoor, Boris Johnson and Stephen Daldry.

The show, Road to 2012: Aiming High is the third and final instalment of a BT-sponsored project that has resulted in more than 100 Olympic portraits.

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Category: Art News