Podium pieces: Olympic art in London Heathrow
As the World’s top athletes head for Heathrow, Olympic art is waiting to greet them. Carol Cordrey touches down in a gallery with prospects of gold
In the words of that bouncy 1950s hit: Here Comes Summer – and with it, at long last, London 2012. The world’s finest athletes will soon be pouring through Heathrow’s Terminal 5, where the airport experience is now much enhanced by a fabulous art gallery. This summer, it hosts some excellent paintings, sculpture and photographs inspired by the Olympics and Paralympics alike.
Terminal 5 Expo Fine Art Gallery, between check-in and passport control, is run by Surrey’s Ann Aldridge. In defiance of all economic forecasts, Ann’s business acumen, keen eye for quality art and enviable, international client list have seen the place boom in a matter of months. Already she has two assistants on board, helping her to ship art from the gallery to all corners of the globe.
Terminal 5’s VIP and Royal Suites also boast work from Ann’s stable of artists, and there is a further programme of exhibitions at the building next to Terminal 5, the Sofitel Hotel.
All this is new and exciting for Ann, who spent most of her career at a major bank. As an award-winning amateur painter, however, she included art events within the marketing aspect of her roles, including exhibitions at Guildford and the Edinburgh Festival. Then, upon early retirement, she grabbed the chance to take over the existing space at Terminal 5.
Immediately she invited artists whose work had Olympic connections to exhibit during 2012. Amongst them were Surrey’s Richard Booth – a Paralympian photographer featured in this column – and Christine Charlesworth, sculptor of Paralympian basketball player Ade Adepitan.
Next came Ben Dearnley, the ‘modern day Michelangelo’ who sculpted the torso of legendary swimmer Mark Foster, along with Faye Nasser-Joley’s equestrian work and Michael Speller’s attenuated figures inspired by the Olympic spirit.
And then there was Eleanor Cardozo’s superbly graceful Ribbon on the World, honouring the five times British Champion rhythmic gymnast and Olympic hopeful, Frankie Jones – a big hit with Ann’s clients and the media too.
Adamant that art and air travel can be enjoyed together, Ann targets her inspirational gallery at visitors of all ages. Quality is key, of course, but she encourages contact from less established artists, as well as the big names. She also urges artists to apply business principles to their aspirations, and discussions often centre around strategic planning, stakeholder engagement and unique selling points.
Now Ann has been invited to curate the Legacy of Sport display at Guildford Cathedral, to coincide with London 2012. Some of our best local artists will be there – expect Olympian efforts from Richard Booth, Jane Allison, Christine Charlesworth, Sara Holmes and more.
Sport and art united: surely a medal standard effort from Ann.
Legacy of Sport, Guildford Cathedral, Aug 2-16, guildford-cathedral.org;
See also Woking Willow Sculptures, Jul 28-29, celebratewoking.info/getwillow.aspx
For more art see our What’s On calendar