Celebrating active seniors
A photography exhibition showcasing examples that say being old doesn’t mean being useless.
Photographer Foong Lian Fey’s mother, Mrs Foong, was 81 when she first took up Chinese painting and today, at 86, she was still continuing with her hobby before having pain in her arm. She, along with Fey’s two other partners’ mothers were all part of the inspiration and included in their first photography exhibition in 2017 called “Celebrating Active Elders”. “We wanted to thank our mothers for being active,” said Fey. For her, it was simply a way to encourage her mother to continue doing what she loved.
She added, “Our golden years is a period of life that we will all go through, sooner or later.Unfortunately, society often deems those in this age group ‘less than useful’, and quite often, they are ignored. Worse still, some seniors label themselves useless with the belief ‘I can’t, because I am old’.”
The 58-year-old continued, “For me, instead of looking at my golden years with dread, I’d rather focus on the positives of this precious time of our lives when we no longer sweat the small stuff. As a photographer, I decided to search for role models and showcase them to say thank you to them for being an inspiration!”
The exhibition has three objectives. One to celebrate seniors who won’t allow their age to dictate their lifestyle, and are still pursuing their passions. Two to motivate other seniors who say “I’m old, therefore I can’t …” because they see examples which says being old doesn’t mean being useless. And third, “to remind those of us who aren’t there yet, but will be one day, that if we want to enjoy our golden years, we need to find and start pursuing our passions now”, said Fey.
The first “Celebrating Active Elders” exhibition was self-funded and was held at a friend’s house. As it was not open to the public, it was by invitation-only. The exhibition focused on six subjects, who were over the age of 70, and had photos of each of the subjects as well as their belongings pertaining to their activity, hobby or passion. For instance, the carpenter showcased his tools, while the artist brought her paints, brushes and paintings.
For this year’s exhibition to be held on October 26 at 6.30pm to 9.30pm at the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), Fey is doing it on her own and has included the six subjects from last year and five new subjects. The youngest is a 75-year-old yogi, while the oldest is an 87-year-old woman who helps at a temple, teaches people how to make Chinese lanterns and does qigong.
Fey shared that she wants to do the same topic every year, but only if she can make it interesting and useful. This year’s exhibition focuses on celebrating and featuring the seniors, and allowing them to share what motivates them. It also includes their friends or family members saying something about them.
Having done the exhibition now twice, Fey has learned a few things. “I have learned that age is not an issue if your heart is in it. Active ageing isn’t just about a physical activity, it could be an emotional activity – it is really about focusing on something. I think it is important to identify a passion earlier in your life and use that as a guiding stick.”
To catch her exhibition, sign up at: https://celebratingactivelders.peatix.com/.