New exhibition tackles negative perceptions and celebrates old age

Opening on Friday, 7 July at Hawkesbury Regional Gallery in Windsor is an exhibition exploring ideas, experiences and creative responses to notions of ageing in our society and communities. It comprises two parts: an in-house exhibition, Time Leaves its Mark,  featuring the work Jo Ernsten, Pablo Grover, Leahlani Johnson, Nicole Toms and David White (with a commissioned series of portraits of senior Hawkesbury artists), as well as a display of photographs titled The Art of Ageing toured by the NSW Government Department of Family and Community Services.

One way or another, all the artists challenge the dominant, often negative, perceptions of ageing, capturing the joys, pains, fears and thrills of the ageing process. Along way, we ask: why is western society so obsessed with youth? And why does the human body degrade so much while the brain often stays relatively young?

Hair today gone tomorrow
Pablo Grover is fascinated by time and how our bodies begin ageing from the time we are born. Since July 1983, he has been collecting hair at each haircut, documenting the date, place and where the hair was cut. Now heading towards his sixth decade, he has collected 80 bags of his own hair, all the while questioning our concept of controlling time and how time changes everything… eventually. In the end, does it make any difference? Does it matter?

Leahlani Johnson’s practice also investigates the paradoxical nature of time, and the physical, emotional and social challenges posed by the ageing process. Using a wide variety of disciplines, from painting, drawing and ceramics to floristry and the moving image, her work addresses the internal struggle to re-identify, physically, socially and mentally as an ageing person.

Each of Nicole Tom’s artworks looks at the theme of ageing from different viewpoints. Memory Boxuses a silicone cast of the artist’s face to evoke the concept of the memory box (a therapeutic tool utilised for dementia sufferers) and the way the past takes precedence over the present.

David Newman-White was commissioned by the Hawkesbury Regional Gallery to produce ten large-scale oil pastel portraits of ageing Hawkesbury artists.

“Twelve weeks to produce ten large scale portraits, was I up to it? You bet!” David said.  “I must say, I felt that this project was made for me. My subjects were all fantastic. My youngest subject, Greg Hansel, is 68 years old, and my oldest, Bert Moriarty turns 96 this year. In particular I take my hat off to the bravery of all the female subjects in this project - they truly were sacrificing their pride for the cause of art, knowing how judgemental society is of the ageing female body.”

: An exhibition of photography by Louise HawsonThe Art of Ageing
Louise Hawson’s photographic display is the result of a commission from the Department of Family and Community Services to capture older people in a way that is more positive and varied than typical images portray them.

“It was interesting personally because recently I’ve become a little obsessed with trying to understand ageing’ Louise said. “I find myself asking random people over the age of 60, how does it feel to be older? Not as in aches and pains, but do you feel massively different to who you were 20 years ago or are you essentially the same – except for more wrinkles and grey hair?”

After photographing some inspiring people, who just happen to have spent longer on the planet than others, Louise has found herself feeling more positive about ageing: “I feel that there is much still to look forward to, which is lucky because there’s not much you can do about ageing!”

The exhibition continues until Thursday, 27 August at the Deerubbin Centre (level one) 300 George Street Windsor.

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