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Older South Australians show they are ‘Young at ‘art’

Artwork of South Australian aged care residents is once again on display as part of the South Australian Living Arts (SALA) festival.

Helping Hand CFO and Director of Care Environments with resident Len and his award-winning portrait (Source: Shutterstock)
Helping Hand CFO and Director of Care Environments with resident Len and his award-winning portrait (Source: Shutterstock)

Running throughout August, the annual state-wide festival of visual art is open to all community members, and is an event that many aged care residents and providers are getting on board with.

Participating for the first time in the 2017 SALA festival is Helping Hand North Adelaide which has several residents exhibiting 39 different artworks on the walls of their facility as part of their ‘Young At ‘Art’ collection.

Those exhibiting are part of Helping Hand’s weekly Art Group, which has been running for the past 8 months thanks to the support of a dedicated volunteer.

Helping Hand Chief Executive Officer Ian Hardy says that Helping Hand is committed to creating opportunities for residents, which support their passion for interests old and new.

“The current SALA exhibition is creating an enormous buzz at the care home with visitors being welcomed every day to the exhibition,” he says.

“Self-expression through creativity can add immeasurably to quality of life and we work every day to ensure the minds and hearts of our residents are challenged and nurtured in equal measure.”

Mr Hardy adds that both the Art Group and SALA participation “provides an inclusive way for residents who have never participated in art to try something new”.

90 year-old Helping Hand resident Len Harvey is one of the Art Group members who entered a painting into SALA for the first time this year.

“I’m someone who likes to paint and I have been painting mostly landscapes for around 40 years,” he says.

“For the painting that was entered into SALA, I definitely went out of my comfort zone – it was a portrait piece.”

As well as being awarded recognition for his piece, Len says he and many of the other participating residents gain many benefits from participating in SALA and the Art Group.

“I certainly would recommend other aged care residents to get involved,” he says.

“I have seen people out putting considerable time into and getting interested in the festival and their entry.

“Some who have never painted before and some that haven’t painted in a long time.

“It’s something people enjoy doing and I believe it is also very good mental expression and an outlet.”

Len adds that a number of local seniors community groups have come to view the exhibition at the care home and enjoyed the artwork and a cup of coffee.

Care provider ACH Group also has a range of SALA exhibitions on display across the state for the month of August, in locations including Goodwood, Hyde Park, Morphett Vale and Rostrevor.

The ACH artists this year have submitted pieces on the theme of ‘Reconnection with nature - people, places and plants’.

ACH Group SALA Curator Gianna Miller says the festival acknowledges the value of artistic expression as an integral part of everyday life.

“It brings art to the community and fosters the community through art,” she says.

“Our long-standing involvement with SALA is just one way in which ACH Group has been able to demonstrate its Healthy Ageing Approach to support people in our residential living homes to choose to be active, remain connected and engaged in what they love to do.”

Last year, a total of 4,600 artists exhibited work in 630 free exhibitions across 570 venues.

To find out more about the SALA festival or to find exhibition details, visit


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