Dundee’s Year of the Older Person: Museum hosts creative portrait challenge

This year, V&A Dundee will provide the inspiring backdrop for a creative portrait competition as part of Dundee’s celebration of International Year of the Older Person.

The Face of Experience 2021 painting challenge took place in the museum On Tuesday 28th September, over the course of which three members of Dundee Pensioners’ Forum will be the models for a range of artists who will have four hours to complete their work.

View photos of the day here: Face of Experience Portrait Challenge Photo Album

The competition is a collaborative project between Dundee Pensioners’ Forum, Dundee Volunteer and Voluntary Action (DVVA), Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design and V&A Dundee.

DVVA – a key service supporting older people across the city – wanted to override the negative stereotyping, exacerbated by Covid-19, that all older people are vulnerable and frail.

With many older people actively involved and volunteering in their communities, Dundee City Council designated 2021 as Dundee’s Year of the Older Person, and Third Sector and community groups wanted to use this opportunity to recognise older people as individuals with their own life experiences, by hosting a range of celebratory events.


Janice Aitken, Associate Dean of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design was delighted to have been asked to be involved in this project, saying, “We are always keen to work alongside community organisations like the Pensioners’ Forum to support their work and highlight the importance of creative and cultural activity to the wellbeing of their members. It’s a pleasure to work with our close colleagues at V&A Dundee to make what we do accessible to all generations.’

Peter Nurick, Communities Producer at V&A Dundee said “We are delighted to support Dundee’s International Year of the Older Person by providing a creative, contemporary backdrop for this event. We are always looking for new ways to connect people with the museum’s architecture, as well as using the space for our local community. This event does both.”

Erik Cramb of Dundee Pensioners’ Forum adds “I sometimes think that life’s experiences act like an unseen sculptor, taking the smooth and elastic skin of our youth and through the joys and the trials of life creates something wonderful in the faces of the elderly. So I can hardly wait to see what the artists will discover and reflect in the faces of my three colleagues from Dundee Pensioners’ Forum”.

Due to the restrictions around Covid-19, the event itself will not be open to the public, however the
resulting portraits will be on view to the public in a future exhibition.

Janice Aitken will be joined on the judging panel by prize-winning PhD researchers Li Huang and Allan Davies.

The prize has been kindly donated by Dundee Pensioners’ Forum and runners up will receive art
materials vouchers sponsored by the Dundee branch of iArtsupplies.

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