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Press Release: Welsh Paralympic athlete Nathan Stephens opens UK tour of National Portrait Gallery/BP Road to 2012 Exhibition in Cardiff

Friday 30 March 2012

Stunning open-air exhibition tour of large photographs of athletes and key London 2012 figures opens at Cardiff Bay today

Cardiff Bay, adjacent to Wales Millennium Centre (Ffresh entrance): from30 March until 27 May 2012   
Edinburgh, Mound Precinct:
from1 June until 8 July 2012
Birmingham, Centenary Way:
from13 July until 9 September 2012

Admission Free  

Made possible by BT 

Over 30 new photographic portraits of top athletes and key figures involved in the staging of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery, and made possible by BT, are launched at Cardiff Bay today by Welsh Paralympian Nathan Stephens (Friday 30 March 2012).

The printed panels on large specially-designed outdoor pods can be seen next to Cardiff Bay’s Wales Millennium Centre from today until 27 May 2012. The open-air exhibition will then continue its British tour visiting Edinburgh on 1 June 2012 and Birmingham on 13 July 2012.

BT Ambassador Nathan Stephens, who features in the exhibition, is one of only two UK athletes to compete at both Paralympic Winter and Paralympic Summer Games. He lost both legs at the age of nine, while playing on railway tracks; he now aims to be the UK’s greatest Paralympian thrower. His portrait by the London-based German photographer Bettina von Zwehl shows him at nearby Barry Island.

Also included in the exhibition is Finlay McKay’s 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.

The exhibition contains highlights of the largest photographic commission ever undertaken by the National Portrait Gallery, London, made possible by London 2012 partner BT, includes large-scale portraits of Jessica Ennis, Victoria Pendleton, Tom Daley, David Weir, Seb Coe and Danny Boyle. The exhibition was brought to Cardiff with assistance from Wales Millennium Centre and Cardiff City Council. 

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.

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 is part of the London 2012 festival, a 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 have connections with sitters and photographers on show. Scotland is represented by Olympic rower Katherine Grainger and photographer Finlay MacKay; the Midlands are represented by Black Country-born photographer Brian Griffin, West Bromwich-born Olympic gold medallist and London 2012 Ambassador Denise Lewis, and Olympic triple-jumper Phillips Idowu who lives and trains in Birmingham.

Brian Griffin’s portraits include former London mayor Ken Livingstone and London 2012 Ambassadors Denise Lewis and Jonathan Edwards. Photographer Bettina von Zwehl’s work for the tour includes Olympic diver Tom Daley, heptathlete Jessica Ennis and Olympic cyclist Victoria Pendleton.

Sitters for photographer Emma Hardy include LOCOG’s chair Seb Coe, Olympic Games Opening Ceremony Artistic Director Danny Boyle and his team, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison and 

world renowned author and former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo. Among the portraits by Finlay MacKay are Olympic gymnast Louis Smith, wheelchair racer David Weir, top triathlete brothers Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee and Paralympic Wheelchair Rugby players Mandip Sehmi and Andy Barrow.   

Made possible by the support of BT, the National Portrait Gallery/BT Road to 2012 project represents an insight into contemporary approaches to photographic portraiture in the UK. The Gallery invited seven British-based photographers to contribute to the project. They were asked to work on location, in places that were relevant to the sitter’s role in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Launched in 2009 the project presents high-profile leaders and those less well-known who are working and training behind the scenes across the UK. It introduces the visionary figures who conceived London’s bid to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the people responsible for designing and delivering the Olympic Park and the men and women with the enormous challenge of staging London 2012. The portraits feature the athletes at the heart of the event - World Champions, Olympians and Paralympians as well as those aspiring to be selected for Team GB for the first time.

Listen to the photographers talk about their careers and their work for the Road to 2012 project

A specially designed mobile website will enable visitors to access video interviews with photographers and sitters on their mobile phones, with QR codes on the panels linking though to these.

Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘Thanks to BT this tour to the heart of three major British cities means that these extraordinary images – highlights of the National Portrait Gallery/BT Road to 2012 project – of inspirational people involved in London 2012 can be enjoyed for free by hundreds of thousands of people.’

Suzi Williams, Director BT Group Marketing and Brand, says: ‘From the very start of our London 2012 journey we’ve believed that the Games are about more than just sport – that’s why we’re proud to be a Premier Partner of the Cultural Olympiad. Our Road to 2012 project with the National Portrait Gallery creates a legacy for the nation – a celebration of the people at the heart of the Games. That’s why taking the portraits on tour is so important – they belong to the nation and we want to give as many people as possible the chance to see them.’

Ruth Mackenzie, Director, Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival, says: ‘The National Portrait Gallery/BT Road to 2012 project is a wonderful record of the range of people working to make London 2012 a huge success, and it is great that audiences can see Road to 2012 exhibitions for free in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Birmingham and, of course,  London.’

The National Portrait Gallery has also commissioned video interviews with the photographers about their photographic practice and involvement in the project, as well as interviews with the sitters. These feature some of the sitters and behind the-scenes photographs of the shoots that reveal the stories. The website will carry the images, biographies and interviews with sitters and photographers.


Cardiff Bay, adjacent to Wales Millennium Centre (Ffresh entrance): from30 March until 27 May 2012   
Edinburgh, Mound Precinct:
from1 June until 8 July 2012
Birmingham, Centenary Way:
from13 July until 9 September 2012

Admission Free

For further Press information please contact: Neil Evans, Press Office, National Portrait Gallery, London Tel: 020 7312 2452 Email: [email protected]

To download Press images:

For Press information on BT London 2012 Projects please contact: Digby Halsby, Flint Public RelationsTel: 020 3463 2082 Email: [email protected]

For BT Press information please contact the BT Group Newsroom on its 24-hour number: 020 7356 5369. From outside the UK dial + 44 20 7356 5369. All news releases can be accessed at our web site:

National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place, WC2H 0HE opening hours: Saturday-Wednesday: 10am – 6pm (Gallery closure commences at 5.50pm) Late Opening: Thursday, Fridays:10am - 9pm (Gallery closure commences at 8.50pm) Recorded information: 020 7312 2463 General information: 020 7306 0055 Website:

About BT
BT is one of the world’s leading providers of communications solutions and services, operating in more than 170 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to our customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband and internet products and services and converged fixed/mobile products and services. BT consists principally of four lines of business: BT Global Services, Openreach, BT Retail and BT Wholesale.

BT is proud to be the official communications services partner for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

In the year ended 31 March 2011, BT Group’s revenue was £20,076 million with profit before taxation of £1,717 million.

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.

For more information, visit

About the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival

The London 2012 Cultural Olympiad is the largest cultural celebration in the history of the modern Olympic and Paralympic Movements. Spread over four years, it is designed to give everyone in the UK a chance to be part of London 2012 and inspire creativity across all forms of culture, especially among young people.

The culmination of the Cultural Olympiad will be the London 2012 Festival, a spectacular 12-week nationwide celebration bringing together leading artists from across the world with the very best from the UK, from Midsummers Day on 21 June and running until the final day of the Paralympic Games on 9 September 2012.The London 2012 Festival will celebrate the huge range, quality and accessibility of the UK’s world-class culture including dance, music, theatre, the visual arts, fashion, film and digital innovation, giving the opportunity for people across the UK to celebrate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Principal funders of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival are Arts Council England, Legacy Trust UK and the Olympic Lottery Distributor. BP and BT are Premier Partners of the Cultural Olympiad and the London 2012 Festival.


Portraits by Anderson & Low:
Beth Tweddle, Hannah Whelan, Jenni Pinches and Rebecca Tunney  

Portraits by Jillian Edelstein
Jan Matthews  

Portraits by Brian Griffin:
Soil Engineers 
Denise Lewis and Jonathan Edwards 
Olympic Park Leadership Team 
Kenny Family 
Ken Livingstone and Tony Winterbottom    

Portraits by Bettina von Zwehl
Tom Daley 
Jessica Ennis 
Rebecca Adlington 
Katherine Grainger 
Nathan Stephens
Victoria Pendleton

Portraits by Emma Hardy
Sebastian Coe 
Danny Boyle, Mark Tildesley and Suttirat Larlarb
Chris Allison 
Michael Morpurgo and Greg Nugent 
Stella McCartney
Chris Holmes  

Portraits by Finlay Mackay  
Alistair Brownlee and Jonathan Brownlee with Malcolm Brown
Eleanor Simmonds with Billy Pye
Andy Triggs Hodge and Pete Reed
Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor
Louis Smith 
David Weir
Aaron Cook with Christine Cook, Nigel Cook and Luke Cook 
Mandip Sehmi and Andy Barrow 
Phillips Idowu   


Adjacent to Wales Millennium Centre, Bute Place, Cardiff Bay, CF10 5AL (beside Ffresh Restaurant entrance.)

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