Meet the Seniors Showing That Creativity Shines Brightly at Any Age

Their awesome art is proof that creativity endures.

Residents at the Sandfields residential home for seniors pose with some of their art

(Photo courtesy of Care UK)

Give someone of any age a creative task, encourage them to let their imagination run free, and magic can happen. This is exactly what transpired for residents at a nursing home for the elderly, in the spa town of Cheltenham, in the UK. Wanting to put their art skills to the test, they decided to pick up their paint brushes, and combine these with their best photography and acting skills to recreate iconic works of art from art history, but featuring their own faces!

Making a creative artistic plan happen
This painting extravaganza  took place at Sandfields, a residential home for seniors managed by Care UK,  located on the edge of the Cotswolds, a scenic range of rolling hills and picturesque rural villages, in the country of Gloucestershire. It was spurred by The Big Draw, a  month-long worldwide art festival celebrating the power of drawing.

The painters at Sandfields were guided by Regional Lifestyle Lead, Jon Sneath, and Lifestyle Coordinator, Frances Atkinson who are pleased to work for a chain of care homes that emphasizes the value of activity-based care. As CareUK explains: “From the Mona Lisa to Marilyn Monroe..., the residents first studied the original artwork to ensure their poses were an accurate portrayal. Once captured, each of the photos were printed and photocopied before being glued to its famous background. The paintings are now on display in the home for everyone to enjoy.”

As The Big Draw website details: “The Big Draw is a pioneering visual literacy charity dedicated to raising the profile of drawing as a tool for wellbeing, thought, creativity, social and cultural engagement.”

Veteran art lovers share their perspectives on creating art
Commenting on the artistic endeavor, resident Consuelo, who had posed as the Mona Lisa said: “I really enjoyed posing for the picture, although I wish I looked as beautiful as the original Mona Lisa! I particularly enjoyed working on the Andy Warhol painting.”  Barbara, meanwhile, inserted her face with flair into Girl with a pearl earring, originally painted by Dutch artist, Johannes Vermeer,  in 1665.

Dee, 95, who painted Vincent van Gogh's The Starry Night,  told the BBC: “I have always enjoyed painting. It's soothing and creative… As a child, my parents would often let me sit and draw for hours. No matter your age, you must try and try again - you'll be surprised at what you can do.” 

The benefits of art extend to health too
While acknowledging that Sandfields is home to some very skilled and talented artists, the home’s  manager, Malaika Charles, believes that drawing is a great hobby for all older people, including those living with dementia. "On top of the physical benefits, from increased motor skills to improved coordination, creative activities, such as drawing, can truly boost cognitive function and even reduce the rate of development for a range of memory conditions,” she explained.

Charles and her team at Sandlands feel proud of the artwork created by the residents, which is now on display, and often admired by visitors.

Writer Maya Angelou said that you can’t use up creativity. The more you use the more you have.  The flourishing artists of Sandfields definitely attest to that. 

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