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Sally Gunnell by Kitty Blandy
Sally Gunnell
Bronze
1999

I was informed recently that the National Portrait Gallery (London) will be displaying my portrait of the British Olympian, Sally Gunnell (part of the permanent collection) from July to November this year.

The Gallery was founded in 1856 to collect portraits of famous British men and women.
Sally Gunnell, notable for her achievement of holding the European, World, Commonwealth and Olympic titles simultaneously, still currently holds the British record for the 400m hurdles.

This year Gunnell is acting as host and ambassador for the 2012 Olympics.

Gunnell recently commented to me about the significance of the Olympics for her, “I can’t quite believe on the 5th August this year, men’s 100m final night. I will be sitting in the stadium […] 20 years to the day since I won in Barcelona”.

The National Portrait Gallery acquired this piece for their permanent collection in 2000. The value of the National Portrait Gallery, as a social library and visual cultural link to notable British citizens, is the success in engaging with its audience. Unlike any of the other main attraction art institutions, anyone can relate to portraits whether or not they are versed in the arts – here are images of “people”. It is the first encounter with painting and sculpture for some people. The school tours, of a collection such as this, provide a foundation in social history in addition to the arts. It is unfortunate that Canada has had to store its collection since it was moved three years ago.