Seniors honoured in new art exhibition

Portrait of Centenarian Colin Leavold by Darcie Medlyn

The South Australian edition of The Centenarian Portrait Project by Teenagers will display artwork in an exhibition at The Drill Hall, Torrens Parade Ground – from 21 to 30 June and open from: 11.00 am – 5.00 pm daily.

The initiative by Embraced Inc. aims to bridge the generational divide by connecting a centenarian with a teenage artist, who is then tasked with creating a portrait that captures and celebrates a moment in a 100-year-life.

Visitors are encouraged to attend the Saturday event to meet some of the participating artists and centenarians, learn about their individual experiences and hear what the project has meant to them.

The process begins with the teenagers getting to know their subject through a series of meetings and interviews, face-to-face if safe to do so, or through remote interactions such as letter-writing, zoom sessions and phone calls.

Rose Connors Dance, Creative Director of Embraced Inc. said that it is a highly personal creative process for every artist. For most, it is a chance to meet someone who is 100 years old for the first time; for the centenarian, it is a chance to share their story.

For both generations – it is a memorable exchange of perspectives. Post-exhibition, portraits are gifted to centenarian participants to keep and treasure for generations to come.

Portrait of Vallerie Ebb by Neve Lembry

“The connection formed between the young and old makes for a portrait with great meaning. To see what 100 years of life looks like through the eyes of young artists is incredibly humbling for everyone involved,” Rose said.

The project has already been rolled out in NSW, VIC and QLD and the response has been overwhelming, receiving accolades from the industry, participants, and the general public alike.

Ian Thorley, CEO of Estia Health said “having seen the benefits the initiative has had on our many residents featured in artworks around the country, I am truly delighted to once again be the major event sponsor for the project.

Too often in society, we live our lives independently, forgetting the opportunities that can be gained from generations interacting with each other; sharing stories, joy, and laughter. We know how positive the benefits of these interactions can be for residents in our homes, which is why we’re proud to support such a magnificent initiative.”

The project not only promotes intergenerational friendships and celebrates life at 100 but was also created with the desire to fight the negative ageing stigma.

“I would encourage people to come out and visit the exhibition to review the talent of these young artists and see what 100+ years of life really looks like,” said Mr Thorley.

Director of Office for Ageing Well, SA Health, Cassie Mason, said her office was proud to support The Centenarian Portrait Project by Teenagers.

“We are thrilled to help celebrate the culmination of this fantastic project that aligns well with South Australia’s Plan for Ageing Well 2020-2025,” said Ms Mason.

“Creating meaningful connections across the years through art is a wonderful way to alleviate loneliness and bring joy to the lives of both centenarians and teenagers, particularly during these COVID-affected times.”

Portrait of Centenarian Alma Jones by Kate Howie


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