Archive for June 4th, 2012

Potential theme – Ageing

For a while now I’ve been thinking about ageing or memory as a potential theme for my design project for A Creative Approach, and basically because of an emotional connection I am being drawn towards Ageing.

This is my mother at the Art Gallery last weekend. I’m not really thinking of her stage of ageing. Mum’s in her eighties, is careful of what she eats, makes sure there’s a Physical, Mental and Social element in every day, is aware of and preparing for what may be in the future but is fiercely making the most of every moment. She has led and continues to lead an adventurous and independent life and I am enormously proud of her and her achievements. When this photo was taken we had just finished recording the first installment of the Oral History she wants to make, starting at age 11, sitting in a chapel in Weymouth when a man came in with a note for the preacher – England was at war.

In the background is Ben Quilty’s portrait of Margaret Olley, another fierce and independent woman.

Earlier that day we came across a work by Ron Mueck. It totally stopped me in my tracks.

I’ve included the information plaque because I think it describes the work beautifully.

This is an amazing, hyper-realistic work, perhaps two-thirds life size and looking even smaller in the large gallery space.

The sense of vulnerability and frailty is one part of what is concerning me.

This is the photo that really bothers me. It’s the window of a shared room in a nursing home, the home for over two years of a woman I know and occasionally visit. She is frail, vulnerable, alert, intelligent, trapped, scared, in pain. She used to be proud and independent in a quiet but determined way. Widowed as a young woman, she has raised her children alone. Now she is in a system that in the name of protecting her has stripped her of almost everything. Virtually everyone involved – family, nursing home staff, bureaucrats, whoever – will say in honesty that they are doing their best to care for her but the result is horrendous. She loves that window, the light, the view. She loves her family too, but she is ready to go.

I don’t know whether Nancy will be my focus (that’s not her real name, but obviously I’ll do my best not to identify her, her relatives or the nursing home). It’s more around loss of choice and personal control, physical restriction – for example see this article (I’m right to go, just don’t wake me by Mark Metherell accessed May 11, 2012) about people who have “Do Not Resuscitate” tattooed on their chest. I’m not sure how much I will blog about this, as it could be regarded as political and divisive which is not my intention. I’m not sure what my feelings are, beyond anger and pity, and I certainly don’t have any answers just lots of questions. I would like to learn and think more about this, to find a way to express myself in a way that is thought-provoking and not unduly offensive. I guess this is a toe in the water.


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