Exhibitions    Flesh after Fifty: Changing images of older women in art

07.03.21 to 11.04.21

Flesh after Fifty: Changing images of older women in art




The Abbotsford Convent, Magdline Laundries

We live in a society swamped with images, where high value is placed on physical appearance and an association between attractiveness and youth, particularly for women. Flesh after Fifty explored and challenged negative stereotypes of aging while celebrating and promoting positive images of older women through art.

Australian artists have a history of photographing, painting and sculpting the female form, mostly by and for men whose interest in exploring youth, vulnerability and beauty has dominated the images we recognise. The way in which artists portray older women often reflects public attitudes. Images of older women have changed over the last century as fashion, community, politics and society have changed. Much of the time, images of older women are absent altogether. Some artists, however, are able to rise above fashion and convention to externalise personal desires and aspirations that challenge received perceptions and expectations.

Flesh after Fifty brought to the fore images that need revisiting or have been overlooked, plus 10 new commissioned art installations that explored social issues, health and empowerment of older women. Artists were challenged to produce art that explores untold stories that reveal the way in which fashion, ageism and oppression of women has influenced what we see and how we interpret older women in society. This exhibition was accompanied by curatorial discourse and community engagement in a series of forums, events and essays by key academics, artists and community leaders exploring the politics and social impact around the construction of images of older women, addressing this topic in the pursuit of a new visual dynamic and appreciation of the older female form.

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