Golden Years Series Exhibition
I recently exhibited seven portraits from the Golden Years series in a venue in Islington Square, London, in June to coincide with Father’s Day weekend to honour the family unit as many have been hard-hit by the pandemic.
Golden Years aims to portray the over-60s population with dignity and respect, as well as celebrate their lives and accomplishments. The project, which had been bubbling away under the surface for a number of years, suddenly came to life with the loss of my grandmother – and many other vulnerable seniors – to Covid-19. The series includes a portrait of my grandmother, called Stairway to Heaven. The other six portraits are painted in vibrant colours in recognition of their continuing contribution to society.
iThe exhibition was a sucess the start of building a network of locals that showed interest in taking part on volunteering and want to help bridge the isolation that community experience.
Throughout my photojournalism and art work, I have always striven to highlight the social inequities that are present in all societies and to express the need to challenge these social disparities, whether it be among the younger generation or the over 60s population. Growing up in Colombia and witnessing first-hand the lives of the underprivileged and vulnerable, I am keenly aware that I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity immigrate to the UK and begin a new life. One of the reasons I went to university was to equip myself with the tools to document the plight of the vulnerable.
As a result from the project I was approached and invited to Dublin University by Yellow Window a European think tank that had been commissioned by the European Union and the United Nations to research on the many issues in the pubic sector and social services that came to light during the pandemic that are lacking or failing the elderly to Resistiré https://zenodo.org/records/5361042 was a three year project and Julio had the great privilege to take part on the the concluding open studio lab of the project with a group of Researchers, service providers in the elderly sector along university professors who specialise in sociology to analyse the projects results and come up with solutions for the existing problems to conclude the project with an extensive report to advise policy makers world wide to rectify the existing ones and advice for new ones.
The latest news on the project is that four of my painting have made it to the finalist for the Visual Arts Association Artist of the year Award 2023 and awaiting the winner to be announce by the end of November.
This year’s finalists’ pieces have been uploaded to our website and can be viewed here: https://visual-artists.org/paa23-finalists/
STATEMENT OF IMPACT
As a social artist, I have deepened my own insights into the vulnerable populations of society beginning in my home country of Colombia. Vulnerability is a topic that I have felt extremely passionate about from a young age while going through a humble childhood. I have had the good fortune of immigrating to the United Kingdom.
I have challenged the viewer with a photography project about the socioeconomic factors of childhood in third world countries. I had traveled for 5 years to document the vulnerable youth. The project had culminated with a photography book that is titled Work Play and No Rest and donated to 2 orphanages (Beautiful Gate in Cape town and the Aldea Orphanage in Abancay, Peru). 5 copies of the book are now in the British Library.
The Golden Years art project is a continuation of my prior photographic project of vulnerable youth. I am portraying the other end of the spectrum, namely, the elderly population.
I hope to impact viewers with the vibrancy of my portraits using the medium of paint and convey the need for renewal in society. I believe that my art project can also shift our paradigms and the way that we think about the elderly population. It will honour and celebrate the elderly so that they will have a more visible and dignified standing in our society.