Sport for Sportís Sake

Friday 10th August 2007

14 July Ė 14 October 2007 Photographs by Paul Floyd Blake

Sport for Sport’s Sake, an exhibition of work by Northern based photographer Paul Floyd Blake, will be shown at Manchester Art Gallery this summer. It features a new series of striking portraits showing ordinary people involved in a variety of sports – from football to fell-running – on public display together for the first time.

Blake’s work depicts sports men and women against the backdrop of their chosen field. Over a dozen images on display include group photographs such as a team of Kurdish refugee footballers, and individuals and couples such as show jumpers, lacrosse and tennis players. The images highlight the everyday realities of sport for amateur enthusiasts. Their dedication and commitment is subtly conveyed by the early mornings, the weather and the determination in their faces.

In the run up to the 2012 Olympics, this exhibition is a timely exploration of the social and cultural complexities of sport. Blake’s photographs investigate the importance of sporting communities, examining the ways in which they define the identities of their members. They also illustrate the need of individuals to belong to a structured world with clear rules, regulations and modes of dress. His work asks us to consider the human need to join groups and to participate in the seemingly trivial activity of play.

Blake started his professional career in photography just over 5 years ago. Following many years working as a lorry driver, he studied photography at college in Halifax, before completing his degree in Bradford as a mature student. One of his first professional roles was as a photographic assistant for the cultural programme of the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002. This job allowed him to develop his interest in sports photography, which in turn led to the Sport for Sport’s Sake series. He is also currently working in partnership with Sportsaid to document the progress of some of the country’s up-and-coming young athletes as they train for the 2012 Olympics.

Blake’s work has previously been exhibited in the international touring exhibition The Human Game curated by Francesco Bonami at the Fondazione Pitti, Florence in 2006 and in the Schweppes Photographic Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery in 2004 and 2005.

Speaking about the exhibition, Councillor Mike Kane, Executive Member for Arts and Leisure, said:
“Manchester strives to promote both sport and art as accessible and enjoyable pursuits for everyone, and this exhibition is a great example of this. It is also a superb illustration of the ongoing legacy of the successful Commonwealth Games in Manchester and how they have made a difference to the lives of many individuals in the city and beyond. It is wonderful to see how the Games in 2002 have inspired Paul Floyd Blake to pursue his interest in sports photography, to the extent that he is now exhibiting his work in a solo exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery for the first time.”