Denise Lewis and Jonathan Edwards. © Brian Griffin - National Portrait Gallery/BT Road to 2012 Project
As part of the 1000 day countdown to the 2008 games, Beijing PR bods invited locally based foreign residents to go on a long-distance jog around a Lake. Facing the same landmark tomorrow, but opting for an altogether more sedate and cerebral affair this morning the National Portrait Gallery hosted Lord Coe, Dame Kelly Holmes and a number of notaries to launch their new 1000 day countdown portrait series, ‘Road to 2012’ celebrating the people ‘making the games happen’.
Brian Griffin is the first in a series of photographers commissioned by the gallery to capture images of a variety of people working on the games. He was on hand to tell some of the stories behind the six images that start the project, along with a variety of sitters. Some are more recognisable than others: Denise Lewis and Jonathan Edwards strike statuesque poses in one portrait alongside Olympic Park soil consultant Mike Dobriskey, pictured on-site with his daughter, 2009 World Championship 1500m Silver medalist, Lisa.
On paper, the event seems little more than half-a-dozen portraits unveiled in one corner of the basilican foyer of the Ondaatje wing, but it will become a much larger commissioning project by the gallery that will build up to 100 photographs by the opening ceremony, which is more like it.
It was also a chance for Seb to highlight other 1000 day countdown events that kick off this weekend. The nationwide festival of sport promises a lot, while closer to home, the BT Tower turns giant countdown clock on Saturday night and hosts a pyrotechnic display at about ten to nine. Royal Mail have managed somehow to get the first 2012 stamp collection launched, in between down-time, and in other sponsor news, jetsetters on a BA flight should listen out for a special ‘welcome message’ from their captain about the 1000 days to go, on approach into any London airport. Alongside or instead-of safety instructions we couldn’t say.
Setting Out on the Road to 2012 runs from today until 5 November. Spectators for the BT tower firework display are advised to head to Parliament or Primrose Hill for the best view.