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Press Release: Road to 2012: Facing East

7 August 2012

A London 2012 Festival Project
In partnership with BT and the University of East London 

Four Corners, 121 Roman Road, Bethnal Green E2 0QN
9 August until 9 September 2012
Admission Free

An exhibition of 65 new photographs of East Londoners that document the impact of the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games on their communities is to open at Four Corners, Bethnal Green on 9 August 2012.

Using a range of photographic styles and techniques, fine art and photography students from the University of East London have created Facing East, an exhibition resulting from a twelve-week project which focused on themes or groups of sitters in the build-up to London 2012. These include local Games volunteers, people working for the Green Legacy in the Lee Valley, commuters, swimming club members, coffee shop baristas, landlords renting out their rooms, locals on Hackney Marshes and allotment owners. 

As well as curating and staging the exhibition under the guidance of National Portrait Gallery staff, the students developed their practice over a ten-week course of master classes and critique sessions led by internationally renowned photographers Anderson & Low, Jillian Edelstein, Brian Griffin, Emma Hardy, Nadav Kander and Bettina von Zwehl.

Over the last three years, these photographers have been commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery as part of the National Portrait Gallery/BT Road to 2012 Cultural Olympiad project. Their own work can be seen in Road to 2012: Aiming High at the National Portrait Gallery, London, until 23 September, as part of the London 2012 Festival.

Liz Smith, Director of Participation and Learning, National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘The National Portrait Gallery is delighted to have collaborated with students from the University of East London. Their documentary portraiture provides a thought-provoking insight into local communities during the build up to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and adds texture and vibrancy to the overall Road to 2012 project.’

Professor Catherine Harper, Dean of the School of Arts & Digital Industries, University of East London, says: ‘This project has given the students a wonderful opportunity to explore contemporary photography and hone their professional skills through working alongside the truly inspirational Road to 2012 photographers.’

Sarah Dimmock, student, University of East London, says: ‘Being part of the Road to 2012 project has been a great privilege and I feel honoured to have met some of the worlds’ greatest photographers. It‘s been an unbelievable journey.’

Road to 2012: Facing East is part of the London 2012 Festival, the spectacular 12-week nationwide celebration running from 21 June until 9 September 2012 bringing together leading artists from across the world with the very best from the UK.

The exhibition can be seen at Four Corners, an organisation committed to promoting artistic participation and inspiring work that wouldn’t otherwise happen. London’s centre for film and photography, it enables people to achieve their potential through their unique facilities.

Road to 2012: Facing East

Four Corners, 121 Roman Road E2 0QN
10.00-18.00 Mon-Sat, Admission Free
Tube: Bethnal Green


For further press information please contact: Eleanor Macnair, Press Office, National Portrait Gallery. Tel: 020 7321 6620 (not for publication), Email: [email protected]

To download press images, please visit the press website:

For press information on BT London 2012 Projects please contact: Annabel Potter, Flint Public Relations, Tel: 020 3463 2081, 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:

For University of East London press information please contact Mary Rahman in the Press Office on T: +44 (0)20 8223 6259 / [email protected].

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:


Groups of sitters by theme and photographer:

The Green Legacy
The Lee Valley, a green urban oasis, gearing up to host the world.
By Joe Bullock

Stratford Road
One street in Newham:  local residents opened their homes and shared their thoughts and stories about the changing landscape.
By Johanna Lees 

The New Landlords
Home is a sacred place. To accommodate the huge number of people that need a place to stay this summer, new doors are opening.
By Malin Olsson 

John Hubbard’s Commute
Many businesses across the city have established committees to minimise disruption to their staff and operations during London 2012.
By Sarah Dimmock 

The Volunteers
Up to 70,000 volunteers are devoting their own time to help ensure the Olympic and Paralympic Games go according to plan.
By Joshua Brown 

Renting in East London
Landlords have said that they will be renting rooms for increased amounts during the Olympic and Paralympic Games that no student can easily afford.
By Denia Kazakou

Newham Swimming Club has benefited from its proximity to the Olympic Park.
By Oliver Durcan

Many athletes at the Olympic and Paralympic Games will perform a ritual before, during or after they compete.
By Roshni Hirani

International Signal
Vagelis Katechis is responsible for delivering the digital signal so that the Olympic and Paralympic Games can be broadcast around the globe.
By Anthia Vryoni

The Coffee Shop Experience
Our increased hunger for good coffee has fuelled the rise of artisan coffee shops in east London.
By Lucas Seidenfaden

The Marsh
Hackney Marshes is the spiritual home of Sunday league football. During the week however, the open space is a blank canvas.
By Mattias Malk 

From Greece to London 2012
The Olympic Games were born in Ancient Greece.
By Nektaria Lampitsi

Two Hundred and Twenty Metres
The distance that separates the Leyes Road allotments in Custom House from the Olympic and Paralympic Games taking place at the ExCel Centre.
By Greg Hayward

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

The University of East London

The University of East London (UEL) is a global learning community with over 28,000 students from over 120 countries world-wide. Our vision is to achieve recognition, both nationally and internationally, as a successful and inclusive regional university proud of its diversity, committed to new modes of learning which focus on students and enhance their employability, and renowned for our contribution to social, cultural and economic development, especially through our research and scholarship. We have a strong track-record in widening participation and working with industry.

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 is the London 2012 Festival, the spectacular 12-week nationwide celebration bringing together artists from across the world with the very best from the UK, from Midsummer’s Day on 21 June and running until the final day of the Paralympic Games on 9 September 2012. The London 2012 Festival celebrates the huge range, quality and accessibility of the UJK’s world-class culture including dance, music, theatre, the visual arts, fashion, film, comedy 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.


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