Swim champ unveils new lottery artwork

Paralympic swimmer Josef Craig at the unveiling of the National Lottery's Celebratory Image at the Baltic, Gateshead. Picture: TOM BANKS.
Paralympic swimmer Josef Craig at the unveiling of the National Lottery's Celebratory Image at the Baltic, Gateshead. Picture: TOM BANKS.

South Tyneside super swimmer Josef Craig has unveiled artwork created to celebrate 20 years of the National Lottery.

The Jarrow Paralympic gold medallist was at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, where he was joined by other inspirational Geordies.

The Celebratory Image, a giant piece of artwork funded by the National Lottery, depicts more than 150 people from a variety of 50 Lottery-funded projects to have benefitted from lottery funding.

Josef, from Swinbourne Terrace, is one of 1,300 athletes supported by Lottery Funding.

He said: “The National Lottery’s Celebratory Image is not only a stunning piece of artwork, but it also highlights the incredible work the people behind the projects do on an epic scale.

“Unveiling the image to these inspirational North East projects was a real honour – they were delighted to see themselves in the artwork.

“I benefit greatly from Lottery funding and know without the vital support of Lottery players I wouldn’t be where I am today.

“I hope the Celebratory Image encourages others to look into Lottery funding when it visits a nearby gallery.”

The piece was on show at the Baltic, which from 1998-2002 has received over £43m in Lottery funding, until Sunday.

It will visit a further seven venues as part of a nationwide gallery tour. The image can next be viewed at the Lowry, Salford, from Tuesday, November 17.

Jackie O’Sullivan from the National Lottery said: “Thanks to Lottery players, £34bn of National Lottery funding has been invested into 450,000 projects since its launch in 1994.

“The Celebratory Image highlights the breadth and diversity of this funding available to people in the UK.

“We are very excited to take the art piece on a tour of incredible Lottery-funded galleries across the UK, including Baltic.

“Hopefully the art work will inspire the public to apply for Lottery funding.”

Josef, who has cerebral palsy, hit the media spotlight when he swam his way to a gold medal in the 400m freestyle at the Paralympic Games in London in 2012, smashing two world records on the way to the top of the podium.