The Elder in Art. Having a Rant!

3 Oct

We live in a society that does not, in my opinion, value our elders. They are marginalised from mass media; stereotyped when they do appear; and shuffled off into ‘care’ homes when they become too inconvenient. Our civilisation has an unhealthy obsession with youth to the extent that barely middle aged people have their faces fixed into a vile rictus grin with botox or surgery, fooling themselves that they look young. They don’t. Young people don’t have stretched skin. We don’t venerate, celebrate or respect age, wisdom, experience, that ability to take the long view.

As artists we should be subverting society’s conventions by giving visibility to the invisible; respect to the disrespected. I have always worked with the human figure, mostly, though not exclusively, through the nude and it’s demoralising going to group shows that feature figurative art and finding that almost all the models are young, conventionally beautiful, female and painted/drawn/printed in coy ‘tasteful’ poses which is an euphemism for soft core porn. What about elder women and elder men? Don’t they deserve to be portrayed and exhibited too? As a baby-boomer I’m acutely aware that if we don’t make a stand, then pretty soon we’ll start disappearing from public view as well.

Relief print: Elder Woman of Hunza.

This portrait is a block print I did based on a photograph I took of an elder in the Hunza region of Pakistan in the North East territories, near the Chinese border during my trip in 2007. She is wearing the traditional Hunza hat which is heavily embroidered. Women in this region are well-educated and economically active, with a reasonable standard of living and good health. Yes, her face has wrinkles but she also shines with joy and I’ve had terrific feedback whenever I’ve shown her and she’s being collected too!

I cut and incised the image into an offcut of signwriter’s foamboard and printed in oil-based relief ink onto Zercoll 145gsm paper in a limited edition of 10.

 

2 Responses to “The Elder in Art. Having a Rant!”

  1. Judith Hladik-Voss October 3, 2011 at 22:33 #

    Too true! Here’s a link to my Angel of Ages linoprint–my Great-aunt Ann.

    http://www.etsy.com/listing/45177742/angel-of-ages-linocut-8×10

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