One Day You’ll be Older Too

11 April – 11 May

Artist Andrew Tift has created a series of intricately drawn pencil portraits of residents living in Washington care homes.

These sensitive images capture a moment in time and celebrate the lives of some of Sunderland’s older residents.

This exhibition was previously shown at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens to accompany the exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing and was due to be displayed at Arts Centre Washington this month.

Image Credit: Andrew Tift, Portrait of Pearl Varah, 2018 ©Andrew Tift

Washington Lives – Andrew Tift

“My initial conception came some years ago whilst reading Fannie Flaggs novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle stop Café”. A simple story and not a literary classic, the novel tells the story of a woman who visits an old people’s residential home in Alabama and befriends an old lady there who shares her stories of exuberance and sadness while she was growing up and the passing on of these stories kept her and those people alive.

 I visited three residential care homes who were all extremely welcoming and accommodating to me for which I am extremely grateful ; Washington Manor Care Home, Washington Lodge Care Home and St George’s Residential Care Home. I wanted it to be a very indigenous project and I focused specifically on the Washington area of Sunderland depicting the people who had lived in and defined the region.

I wanted to interpret the residents very much as individuals and depict them in the most intimate and sensitive way that I could. Texture of skin, bone structure, expression, mood, scars, hands, hair, eyes, clothes depicted in microscopic detail as we try to unravel that person’s identity and experience which is so ingrained within their face. The project has a sense of capturing the sitters before everything is lost and disappears with only traces of their existence left behind. Their memories, experience, stories, wisdom, opinions, thoughts and knowledge all of a sudden will vanish. The physical, the spiritual, the tangible and the intangible.

I also made a slow motion video of the residents sitting for me which explores and observes their features and physiognomy in a similar way to making drawings but also hints at their slowed down inner world of old age and dementia.

There is also another purpose to my project which is to address the way that we care for the elderly generation now and , in particular, in the future with an ever growing elderly population . It is a very real and important issue.”
Andrew Tift, May 2020

Andrew Tift at the opening of the exhibition at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens.  

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