100 teenagers paint 100 portraits of South East Queensland’s oldest residents


Ilga and Hannah

A picture paints a 1000 words but there is even more to the story behind the exhibition ‘100: A Celebration of Queensland’s Oldest Residents, as part of the Centenarian Portrait Project by Teenagers’ which is launching the Queensland rendition for the first time on Sunday 18 August.

100 teenage artists have been working side-by-side with 100 of the state’s oldest residents to create their portraits and soon the pieces of art will be on display at the Seven Hills Hub, Brisbane.

Rose Connors Dance from not-for-profit arts organisation Embraced Inc. is the driving force behind the exhibition which is sponsored by key partners Estia Health, the Queensland Government and supported by the Australian Human Rights Commission.

The young artists - aged 15-19 years old - come from school, TAFE, university and within our community and have been teamed up with 100-year-old participants from Brisbane, Gold Coast, and Sunshine Coast.

One of the participants – 100-year-old Ilga, a resident at Estia Health’s Mount Coolum aged care home on the Sunshine Coast – is the face of 15-year-old Hannah’s painting.

Embraced founder Rose Connors Dance said just like all of the centenarians, Ilga’s story is rich in history and one of many stories being told at the exhibition.

“Ilga was born in Latvia in 1919 before she fled to Germany during the Russian invasion and eventually ended up in Melbourne, Australia in 1949,” said Ms Connors Dance.

“Ilga and her husband went on to purchase a fruit orchard and chicken farm. These are the stories we often forget to ask the older generation who helped shape Australia into the place it is today.

“The initiative has been successful in Melbourne and Sydney, and it’s exciting to uncover the artistry and stories from South East Queensland.”

The launch coincides with the start of Queensland Seniors Week which is designed to change the community’s attitudes towards the older generation.  

Estia Health’s CEO Ian Thorley said projects like this helped to bring the community together in an uplifting way.

“We’re delighted to be the major corporate sponsor and to have our residents involved,” said Mr Thorley.

“It’s heart-warming to see these centenarians build strong relationships with the students and remind them of their connection within the community while removing the negative perceptions about ageing.

“I would encourage people to visit the exhibition. There is so much more to this project than painting a picture. These are real and unique stories that are worth hearing; it’s hard to walk away without smiling.”

Minister for Seniors Coralee O’Rourke said the project was the highlight of Queensland Seniors Week for 2019.

“This project captures so much of what makes Queensland Seniors Week such a success,” said Mrs O’Rourke.

“Like Seniors Week, this project is fantastic opportunity for building inter-generational relationships and is sure to be enjoyed by Queenslanders of all ages.

“Our support for this exciting project demonstrates our commitment to making Queensland an age-friendly state, where Queenslanders regardless of their age or personal circumstances, are able to participate and be included in their communities and enjoy social and economic wellbeing.

“I offer my congratulations to the artists and centenarians who participated and the organisers of this project – I definitely recommend Queenslanders go along and experience it.”

Age Discrimination Commissioner Dr Kay Patterson said intergenerational relationships and understanding were crucial to reducing ageism. 

The Australian Human Rights Commission’s ‘Fact or Fiction: Stereotypes of Older Australians Research Report 2013’ found widespread negative misconceptions about older people. 

“When young Australians spend time with older members of our community, these relationships lead to increased understanding and reduced misconceptions that can lead to ageism in our community,” Dr Patterson said.

The opening of ‘100: A Celebration of Queensland’s Oldest Residents’ will be open to the public from 17 August to 1 September, 11am-5pm daily at Seven Hills Hub, 28 Tallowwood Street, Seven Hills. The exhibition is free and wheelchair accessible.

100 teenagers paint 100 portraits of South East Queensland’s oldest residents (3)

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