Older artists have been in the news lately. I was shocked to read that The Turner Prize Committee had axed its older age limit of 50, yes 50! I did not know the award had an age limit. How can that be? Why? How can one put an age limit on artistry? So, good news, artists over 50 can now be considered and 62 year old Lubaina Himid has been shortlisted. Ms Himid, a contemporary African artist and a University Professor of Contemporary Art, is even tipped by some to win the prize with her bright, life-size cut-out figures.
Another surprise was to read about former USA President George Bush discovering his artistic side in retirement. He started painting at 66 and has turned out a collection of portraits of veterans that I really like. He has surprised everyone from family to critics alike. Whatever you think of his politics and presidential history, you can admire his courage for sharing his art publicly. You can also admire his decision to have a go at a new creative venture in his 60’s. He said that after his presidency he was not stretching his knowledge or imagination, then someone lent him a book about Churchill and he thought “OK. If old Winston could paint I’m going to try it.”
He now says painting keeps him active, “so I am not on the couch chewing potato chips all the time”. “Life should be lived to the fullest. The problem with taking it easy is that it sounds attractive at first, until you get in a routine of doing nothing. And you don’t expand your mind or help anyone else.”
So top marks to George Bush, whose story was featured in this special report on ‘Aging Well Through Arts’ which ‘examines the vitality, excitement and joy that comes to those who connect aging and art’. The article on Bush features a slideshow of some of his work and reminds us that you are never too old to discover or re-connect with your creativity – whether that be through art, music or song. We ALL have creativity of some kind within us and it’s a sadness that we don’t always tap into it and release our inner artist and the pleasure this can bring. Do you stay in touch with your creativity in some way? The possibilities are endless.