31/10/2012 08:08 GMT | Updated 31/10/2012 08:08 GMT

Dogs And Dancers In Photography Inspired By Perfection

After a golden summer of the stuff, we've seen art and sport join forces in unprecedented ways. As Jo Longhurst's work goes to show, the two can still create amazing work even after the closing ceremonies.

Photographer Jo Longhurst is up for The Grange Prize, a major Canadian photography prize, with her startling images of not-so-obvious bedfellows gymnasts and whippets. The link between the two? The "ways we try to define, seek out or achieve perfection", she tells HuffPost UK Culture.

Competition is inherent to the two worlds of dog breeding and gymnastics. Longhurst explains why it's a "fertile territory for making art". She says, "I love the passion and dedication, the drive to improve and perfect."


Jo Longhurst is inspired by how people try to achieve perfection

But what about the old adage that you should never work with animals? It turns out the whippets are happier subjects for the camera than the gymnasts.

"The dogs were completely engaged with the process and a pleasure to work with" Longhurst tells us, "they're not at all phased by the flash lights" - plus in some scenes they're sleeping, which helps.

However, the gymnasts were a tougher test of technical skill. "Low lit training spaces, sprung floors, chalk dust everywhere, and the gymnasts themselves moving at incredible speeds and in all directions."

"I became practiced at manually focusing on their fast moving bodies (the camera’s inbuilt autofocus and sports programmes just couldn’t keep up) and created my work around this experience."

The hard work paid off, as these engaging images show. Here's hoping the judging panel at Thursday's prize giving think the same.