Photos celebrating older people's lives go on display

The winners of a photography competition aimed at challenging negative stereotypes of older people will have their work shown to thousands of people from this week.

Six striking images that celebrate the diversity of older people's lives and their contributions to society will be shown on digital billboards in each of Greater Manchester's 10 boroughs from Monday (18 January) - including Tameside and Oldham. 

Twelve winning entries in the Old Frame New Picture competition will also feature on a set of postcards and a total of 41 shortlisted images will be displayed in an online exhibition. The set of pictures will also be made available as an image library to charities and public sector organisations in Greater Manchester to use in their marketing and communications materials.

Organisers hope that the positive images of older people will counter the often negative and stereotyped images of ageing that show older people as frail, vulnerable and in need.

The competition was organised by Greater Manchester Older People’s Network, Greater Manchester Ageing Hub and voluntary and community sector support organisation Macc. It is part of the Valuable, Not Vulnerable campaign that aims to celebrate the contribution of older people and to challenge negative stereotypes using accurate and realistic images and stories.

Among the winners was "a proud man" (pictured) - taken by professional photographer Darren Robinson, of First Choice Homes Oldham tenant Danny Coley.

Darren took the picture of Danny as part of a commission for First Choice Homes during the summer, to thank tenants and celebrate their contribution during the lockdown restrictions.

Darren said: “Danny kept saying how proud he was to have been asked to have his photo taken. He is a bit of a character and was so full of energy and enthusiasm - it was great to be able to capture that through this photo.”

Danny, aged 65, said: “I am what you would class as a ‘lover of life’. Life is what you make it and my glass is always half full.

“You’ll usually find me singing, dancing or laughing. I used to sing reggae on the Oldham pub circuit and my name was ‘Mr Entertainer’ – and I still am. I think smiling and staying upbeat is what keeps me young!” 

Entries to the competition were judged under six categories:

  • activism
  • supporting my community
  • old and proud
  • friends and family
  • taking part
  • self-portraits (including selfies)

The judges included leading photographer Alex Rotas, who specialises in challenging ageing stereotypes through photography; Virginia Tandy, Director of CADA, the Creative Ageing Development Agency; Helen Wewiora, director of the Castlefield Gallery; Mike Sweeney, BBC Radio Manchester broadcaster; and Jai Chuhan, a visual artist, winner of the bOlder prize at the Manchester Open and a member of the Greater Manchester Older People’s Network.

Brenda Warrington, Tameside Council leader and Greater Manchester lead for age-friendly and equalities, said: “It’s been great to see such a hugely diverse range of photographs that celebrated the many different ways older people contribute to our society.

“The pandemic has been particularly difficult for older people but in spite of this we have also given so much that is positive, in their neighbourhoods and families.

“The photos gathered through this competition show how older people continue to find joy in everyday life and enrich the lives of their families, friends and communities.”

The billboards can be found at transport interchanges run by Transport for Greater Manchester and outside Tesco stores, including on Trinity Street in Stalybridge, Featherstall Road in Chadderton and Hyde Road in Gorton.

Old Frame New Picture is funded by the Arts Council, National Lottery Heritage Fund and Ambition for Ageing as part of a series of projects harnessing the arts and creativity to support Greater Manchester’s ambitions to be the best place in the UK to grow old.

The online exhibition of all 41 shortlisted images can be found on the Greater Manchester Older People’s Network website at www.gmopn.org.uk.

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