A celebration of the human spirit in the face of life’s challenges, Coming of Age uses art to challenge negative perceptions around ageing. It explores how and why we age and affirms positive responses to the experience, as seen through the eyes of both artists and scientists.
Inspired by the work of Newcastle University’s Institute for Ageing and Health , which seeks to challenge the negative perceptions about older people in society, Coming of Age: the art and science of ageing features new commissions by Andrew Carnie, Annie Cattrell and Jennie Pedley and further works by Susan Aldworth, Carla Bromhead, Valerie Laws, Melanie Manchot, Susie Rea, Martin A Smith and Stelarc. It opens at GV Art in London on 1 June.
To complement both the exhibition and the vitality currently infused in this Olympic city, the Institute will host a flagship discussion called The Long Run – Life is a Marathon at Royal Society of Arts in London on 12 July.
At the heart of the exhibition is a collaboration between scientists at the Institute for Ageing and Health and artist Andrew Carnie, sculptor Annie Cattrell and artist and physiotherapist, Jennie Pedley. The latest technologies will enhance an interactive visitor experience, including the chance for visitors to contribute their own Words of Wisdom to an ongoing and original artwork, capturing and cross-referencing public perceptions of ageing.
Andrew Carnie is producing a large scale film installation revealing the human body as it undergoes the subtle changes that cause normal ageing. Annie Cattrell’s sculptures will be examining how memory is stored within our brains. Jennie Pedley’s series of short ‘shadow’ films, meanwhile, examine the day-to-day processes of scientists investigating ageing research alongside the daily activities of older people.
Built around the themes of biology, frailty and vitality, works in the exhibition explore why we age: the effects of genetics and the environment on the ageing process; of dementia and age-related diseases and disorders affecting movement, sight and hearing; as well as celebrating the value of wisdom and experience as older people pass on knowledge to the younger generation.
Biology is referenced through Susie Rea’s work exploring the lifestyle patterns of siblings over 90; Susan Aldworth and Valerie Laws’ work engages with the frailty conferred by dementia; while Melanie Manchot’s Liminal Portraits (1999-2000) and Carla Bromhead’s intensely observed pencil drawings and prints celebrate the vitality of the older body and face.
Coming of Age was originally curated for Newcastle University at Great North Museum, Hancock, by Lucy Jenkins: “This exhibition is the first artistic response to age and the ageing process researched in collaboration with ageing researchers. Its aim is to celebrate the achievement that is our increased life expectancy, and also to encourage people to think about the opportunities, challenges and responsibilities this brings to our society.”
Lucy Jenkins together with Robert Devcic, Director, GV Art, bring this revised and refreshed version of the exhibition to London in 2012, EU Year of Active Ageing, together with a wide range of cross-disciplinary workshops, performances and talks at the gallery throughout the exhibition period.