The Centenarian Project launch in Sydney connects youth and age at John Paul Village Heathcote

Kirrawee High School year 11 student Taya Corrigan sketches Heathcote's Jean Roberts, 100, for Sydney's first Centenarian Project. Picture: John Veage
Kirrawee High School year 11 student Taya Corrigan sketches Heathcote's Jean Roberts, 100, for Sydney's first Centenarian Project. Picture: John Veage

A Sydney-first portrait project that brings together young and old will celebrate ageing through the eyes of Sutherland Shire youth.

The Centenarian Portrait Project is an inter-generational arts initiative that gives teenagers the artistic opportunity to create a portrait of a centenarian.

After a successful version in Melbourne in 2017, the Embraced project has come into fruition in Sydney – and in October, will share youth’s vision with the community at its first exhibition.

The initiative is supported by the NSW government’s Age Discrimination Commissioner, Kay Patterson, and Estia Health.

It is a professional community arts program where 100 centenarians and paired with 100 teen artists across Sydney.

A young person meets their subject, spends time with them, interviews them about their life, take a social outing together, and across several visits, sketches are created, photos taken and a portrait is developed.

The aim is to promote inter-generational friendships and celebrate elderly people.

Kirrawee High School student Taya Corrigan has been sketching Jean Roberts, who recently turned 100, at John Paul Village Heathcote.

Creative director Rose Connors says the project has mutual benefits for the artist and person they are sketching.

“For most of our artists it is an opportunity to meet a centenarian for the first time,” she said. “For our centenarians, a chance to share history is a memorable experience.

“We encourage the artists to visit their subjects at least four times to get to know them, and we found from the Melbourne pilot that it was a rewarding journey for participants. This information may trigger something special and meaningful in a portrait, and can form a friendship.”

Skilled young artists – many from independent art schools, will exhibit their portraits at a free exhibition from 11am-5pm from September 29-October 12 at The Studio, Rosebery. 

After the exhibition, students will donate their portraits to their subjects and their families.

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