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Seniors step up for SALA

Older residents across South Australia are being opened up to the world of art once again as part of the annual state-based living arts festival, SALA.

One of the flower installations for the event created by an older South Australian (Source: Supplied)
One of the flower installations for the event created by an older South Australian (Source: Supplied)

SALA, which stands for South Australian Living Arts, is held annually throughout all of South Australia and provides a range of opportunities and initiatives that celebrate and promote local visual arts through its commitment to inclusivity, innovation, excellence, sustainability and accountability.

This year, a number of aged care organisations and residents are participating in the event - some for the first time, and others continuing the tradition from previous years, offering older South Australians a chance to showcase their artwork to family, friends, fellow residents and the general public.

Aged care provider ACH Group, who was involved in SALA last year, is once again offering residents across its facilities the chance to participate by hosting a series of free art classes throughout the month of August.

ACH Spokesperson Katey Elding says the “come ‘n’ try classes” are all about encouraging more people to try art for the first time.

“We know that art can bring so many benefits, including relaxation, a sense of satisfaction and joy, the chance to make new friends and challenge ourselves to try something new,” she says.

“Art classes give people the opportunity to try art for the first time or renew to an old passion or interest.”

Ms Elding says this year’s SALA event is their “biggest to date” with over 150 pieces of artwork selected for exhibition.

Exhibition curator, artist and tutor Kaz Pederson says being involved in SALA was a great way for older people to get involved in art.

“For many people, it can mean recognition by family and friends that you have an important artistic contribution to make at this time in life,” she says.

“With over 9,000 artists involved in this year’s SALA, it really does offer the opportunity to be part of something much bigger.”

Seniors advocacy group Council on the Ageing South Australia (COTA SA) is also supporting older South Australians to get involved in the arts during SALA, with their COTA Cornucopia exhibition.

ZestFest Coordinator Jayne Boase, who has organised the SALA event to also run into ZestFest, says COTA Cornucopia is all about expressing the vibrancy and contribution older people make in the community, and to demonstrate the “zest for life” many older people have.

“Opening on the second to last day of August, COTA Cornucopia celebrates the new season and heralds in the spring,” Ms Boase explains.

“It is also an effective way to involve the community of Hutt Street into COTA SA and work together to make a beautiful installation to express the joy and cohesion of the residents.

“Importantly COTA Cornucopia provides a low cost opportunity for older people all over South Australia to participate in SALA and ZestFest - by making a flower at home, in their local clubs, or aged care facilities - there is a way for everyone to contribute.”

Ms Boase says while this is the first time COTA SA has had a public, outwardly facing, outdoor art installation, it has already proved quite successful within the community.

“Many people have begun making flowers,” she says.

“We have had approximately 20 people involved in the onsite workshops - which only started the other day.

“We have [also] had brilliant feedback - loads of people asking how they can be involved, and enthusiastic to contribute.

“People have loved the fact that they can use their preferred crafts to make their flowers, such as knitting or crochet, or some using recycled materials to make fabulous 3D creations.

“The people who have already attended the workshops have enjoyed creating flowers, with support, friendship and lots of fun.

“I think it helps people connect with each other, and feel as though they are part of something big and exciting - no matter where they may be physically located, they can be part of this stunning expression of life.”

Ms Boase has encouraged all South Australians aged 50 years and over, as well as their families and friends, to get involved in COTA Cornucopia.

“We want to see a huge explosion of flowers celebrating the zest we have in our lives, and the amazing contribution older South Australians make,” she says.

“We want all who pass in Hutt Street to look up at the installation and feel all the wonderful emotions flowers bring to people.”

Local collection points have been arranged with some local councils and libraries, with no cost involved to send flowers to the COTA SA initiative.

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