Art competition frames ageism in a different light

Posted on 30 Oct 2023

By Greg Thom, journalist, Institute of Community Directors Australia

Finalist 4

Take a tour of the winners of the Art Against Ageism public art competition, designed to break down negative stereotypes about older Australians.

The creative arts can be a powerful vehicle for shaping societal attitudes.

As reported in the Community Advocate last August, that is the aim of the annual public art competition Art Against Ageism.

Run by Victorian based not-for-profit Australian Multicultural Community Services (ACMS), the competition is designed to challenge people to think about the way they see and stereotype older Australians.

ACMS CEO Elizabeth Drozd said by encouraging entries, the initiative uses art as a medium to reject negative stereotypes about ageing and instead showcase and embrace the wisdom and experience of older adults.

“It is a creative way to confront our own prejudices, discuss them with family and friends and actively make different choices to improve our society,” said Ms Drozd.

This year’s competition attracted more than 250 entries from Australia and overseas, with the winners’ efforts showcased in a dedicated exhibition in early October.

Check out our winners' gallery to explore how these artists' work is breaking down the barriers of ageism.

Competiton winner: Black Velvet by Anne Marie Sinclair. The 64-year-old library technician, embarked on her artistic journey later in life, drawing inspiration from the elegance and style of older women. Her winning artwork celebrates the beauty and resilience of older women, defying age-related stereotypes.
Second place
Second place: Tango Romance by Neil Gude. A central Victorian water colour artist, Gude paints a captivating picture of an older couple dancing the Tango, showcasing the intimacy, physicality, and romance of the dance. His artwork demonstrates that romance and connection can thrive at any stage of life.
Third place
Third place: Imagination Has No Age by William McMartin. The nine-year-old artist believes that age should not limit creativity and enthusiasm for life. His drawing of Iris Apfel, a 102-year-old fashion icon, celebrates the idea that imagination knows no age boundaries, emphasising the value of older individuals in our society.
Finalist 1
Finalist: 'A Shared Moment' by Ally Brunacci. The 19-year-old artist from Sydney, creates portraits of older individuals, fascinated by the stories and details etched in their faces. Her artwork captures the essence of a unique connection when an older man winks, inviting viewers into a wonderful inside joke.
Finalist 2
Finalist: 'Fruits of her Labour' by Dr Joanne Ting Mahon. A GP with a passion for art, 'her work portrays her 82-year-old mother in the garden with her persimmon tree. The piece celebrates the joy, capabilities, and resilience of older individuals, echoing the story of family and heritage.
Finalist 3
Finalist: 'Eternal Vitality' by Gerardo Chierchia. A voluntary worker and photography enthusiast, the entry beautifully depicts an older man’s determined stride along the beach. It signifies the enduring strength and spirit that transcends age, challenging stereotypes associated with growing older.
Finalist 4
Finalist: 'Let’s Celebrate!' by Ken Roberts. A retired nurse, Roberts believes in celebrating the wisdom and contributions of older individuals. His painting features an older LGBTQI individual breaking free from age-related stereotypes, inviting others to join in the celebration of life.
Finalist 5
Finalist: 'Frank The Fighter' by Fabio Segatori, An aged care worker with a passion for photography, Fabio's photograph captured the remarkable story of 90-year-old Frank. The image symbolises the resilience of individuals, serving as a powerful statement against ageism.
Finalist 6
Finalist: 'Susan' by Lorena Gonzalez’. A portrait that captures the essence of Susan, a Flamenco Dance Teacher based in Brisbane. The portrait was created to empower Susan and challenge age-related stereotypes that made her feel her societal contribution was diminishing with age. Lorena organised a photo shoot at an inspiring venue near Brisbane, where Susan’s dance expression was realised. The portrait embodies Susan’s energy, significance as a dance teacher, and vitality. It empowers her to confidently promote her classes, challenging age stereotypes and celebrating her radiant presence.
Finalist 7
Finalist: 'The Mixer' by Margaret O’Neill. A 72-year-old retired psychologist pursuing her passion for art, Margaret expresses her love for music and electronic music creation. Her artwork challenges age-related assumptions, highlighting the significance of pursuing one’s passions regardless of age.
CEO Prize 1024x739
CEO Prize: 'Positive Aging, Fighting Aging Stereotypes,' by Eastern European Respite Group. The artwork is a vibrant collage that celebrates the beauty of ageing gracefully and challenges stereotypes. At its heart, the collage features an elderly lady joyfully blowing soap bubbles, each representing a facet of her fulfilling life. The bubbles symbolize diverse elements, including card games, travel, cooking, gardening, heritage, and the desire for companionship. This masterpiece, created with various materials, showcases the talents and interests of participants whose ages range from 70 to 87. It underscores the importance of art expression in their lives, providing a platform for self-expression, creativity, and communication. This artwork empowers the elderly to share their unique experiences and challenges age-related stereotypes, promoting a more inclusive and empathetic society that values the wisdom and vitality that comes with age.

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