Sustained Endeavour (25 drawings of the same photograph of Sir Steve Redgrave) (2006) Pencil on paper on video. Commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery, London for the National Collection. With the support of JP Morgan
This portrait of Sir Steve Redgrave consists of 25 meticulous pencil drawings, based on the same photograph, displayed alongside an animated, high-definition video of the drawings played in rapid succession. The precision of the drawings parallels the oarsman's focus and training throughout his career, while the video animation accumulates the artist's draughtsmanship into a single, intense moving image, creating a kinetic portrait of Britain's greatest ever Olympic athlete.
Goodwin's approach to this commission developed out of his fascination with the mental focus and discipline that lie behind Redgrave's extraordinary achievements. Goodwin has chosen to produce a head, shoulders and torso image that shows Redgrave's unique physicality and concentrates on his intense gaze, to convey the latent energy and focus required to sustain such an epic sporting career.
The drawings are displayed in a five by five configuration representing Redgrave's five Olympic wins. In the animation each drawing becomes a frame of video played in quick succession and in multiple combinations, seamlessly repeated on a loop. This creates, in the artist's words, 'a perpetual living drawing', illustrating the moment as it moves with time. Combining still and moving images, the portrait communicates the powerful combination of mental stillness and dynamic movement required to win a race.
'I knew at the outset' says Goodwin 'that the portrait would need to involve a time-based element because Sir Steve Redgrave has such a singular relationship to time. The tremendous repetition of training, pushing against time over so many years to be the fastest has been his extraordinary achievement, and by making twenty-five detailed drawings of the same photograph, I intended to emphasize my own time investment, which becomes the key to the portrait. There is a parallel of my own feat of endurance in attempting to replicate his likeness again and again and Redgrave's sustained endeavour.'