Aged care residents’ art goes on display

A number of art programs are being held at aged care homes across the country.

An intergenerational art project that saw children and aged care residents create and collaborate has gone on display in New South Wales this week.  

Residents at Whiddon’s Casino facility in the northern rivers region of the state joined forces with local children to produce eye-catching artwork that was exhibited in the town’s Community and Culture Centre.

“Our project enabled creative expression for our talented residents and the children that participated in the program. As a result, we saw many great friendships formed between the young and old,” Whiddon’s head of strategy and innovation Karn Nelson told Australian Ageing Agenda.

Karn Nelson

Funded through the federal government’s Inclusive Communities Grant, this year’s exhibition celebrated the fourth instalment of the intergenerational art program.

“One of the most amazing interactions between our playful youths and wise elderly was the role of teacher both groups played, which gave a sense of belonging and genuine connection,” said Ms Nelson.

The artworks displayed were brought to life by more than 70 budding artists – aged from five to 95 years old – in collaboration with First Nations elders and internally renowned and local artists.

There were many benefits for both groups of participants, said Ms Nelson. Not only does the art project break down barriers between young and old, it also keeps Whiddon residents connected to the local community.

“This is so important to their health and wellbeing, particularly in challenging times such as those experienced during the pandemic,” said Ms Nelson.

Congratulating and thanking all those involved in the project, Ms Nelson said everyone was really excited to see the exhibition “and proud to have their work on display for the community to enjoy.”

“I was asked to enter, and I thought it was rather wonderful.”

Meanwhile, residents at Allity’s Villa Serena site in Robina, Queensland have entered paintings in the arts competition running at the Gold Coast Show, which begins Friday 26 August.

Eight residents have entered pictures featuring an eclectic mix of subjects including jacarandas, cherry blossoms and sunsets.

The Villa Serena residents meet weekly for a class that teaches them different art techniques.

“It’s a cohesive, great group. They give me lots of tips,” said class member Desiree Kilby. The 96-year-old has entered two paintings in the Gold Coast Show competition. “You build up inspiration, that’s the way I do it,” said Ms Kilby. “If you see something – for instance a beautiful tree of any shape and size – you think ‘I’ll remember that.’”

Ms Kilby’s entry in the show reflects her love of nature. “I really love the deep purple and crimson colours,” she said.

Desiree Kilby

Ms Kilby said she feels very proud to exhibit her work. “I was asked to enter, and I thought it was rather wonderful and it’s made a difference to me.”

The art class already have plans for a celebration should one of them win the competition, said Ms Kilby. “We’ll put up a ribbon, put it on display and live it up as a group.”

“Painting is in my blood and always has been.”

Arcare Aged Care launched its third art competition in July with residents across its 47 sites in NSW, Queensland and Victoria showcasing their creativity.

All residents were encouraged to submit original artworks for the competition and close to 100 paintings, sketches, watercolours, photos and craft projects have been entered.

Ranging from 71 years old to 97 years old, the finalists were whittled down through an internal selection process.

One finalist – 86-year-old Maree Fields from Arcare Maroochydore, Queensland – has been painting her whole life. “Painting is in my blood and always has been,” she said.

Maree Fields

Another – 80-year-old Maureen Lauer from Arcare Hillside, Victoria – enjoys the tranquillity of painting. “It is a form of meditation for me,” she said.

Maureen Lauer

Arcare Aged Care CEO Colin Singh said the art competition creates a sense of pride, accomplishment and excitement for residents. This year’s entries were especially impressive, he added. “The talent we have seen this year continues to be amazing.”

The four winning entries will be printed on greeting cards and distributed among Arcare residents, their families and team members.

The winners will be announced on 29 August.

“I can see the art in my head, but I can’t see it on the canvas.”

Bessie Dickens is a resident at ACH Group’s Milpara care home in South Australia and is exhibiting three pieces of art in the 2022 South Australian Living Artists Festival, which runs throughout August.

Visualising a new piece of art in her head is key to Ms Dickens’ creative process. Ms Dickens is legally blind. “I can see the art in my head, but I can’t see it on the canvas,” she said. “As I have limited vision it is hard work and I try to control my frustration.”

The art teacher at the Milpara site helps Ms Dickens select colours and gives direction on where to paint. “She is helping me,” said Ms Dickens, “but she doesn’t do the art for me.”

Bessie Dickens

The ACH Group’s art community has more than 100 pieces on show at the SALA Festival, including Ms Dickens who has submitted three pastel canvas works.

This is the 12th year that ACH residents have exhibited at the SALA Festival said ACH Group CEO Frank Wells. “We are proud that the works of residents are on show in a well-known and public festival.”

Mr Wells said the benefits for residents engaging in art are endless which is why the SA provider runs art programs within its residential care homes.

“Art stimulates imagination, enhances problem-solving skills, creates a sense of accomplishment, can reduce stress and, when done in a group setting, is also a social experience.”

Main image: one of the artworks produced at Whiddon Casino

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Tags: ach group, allity, art, featured, frank wells, Karn Nelson, whiddon,

1 thought on “Aged care residents’ art goes on display

  1. A wonderful celebration and expression of Self in creativity!! Certainly, art forms can contribute to good physical and mental health. Congratulations to all the participants and to facilities that support such programs.

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