Artist Alice Moloney spent a week with the residents of Newent House, an elderly day center situated in a suburb of London. During that time, she not only spoke with and observed the activities of the elderly residents, she painted and sketched the faces that populated the community meeting place, creating stunning watercolor portraits and touching monochromatic illustrations. From a wry wink to a tender kiss of the hand, the artworks capture simple moments made memorable by Moloney’s pen and brush.
Part portraiture, part sketchbook, the “Newent House” series illuminates the daily happenings of a community oozing with history and bustling with energy. “No one day is definitely the same. You never know what’s going to happen,” reads a caption to one of Moloney’s drawings. Images of arms raised in excitement, faces lit up by smiles, and women embracing in solidarity reflect this almost magical sense of dynamism throughout the center.
“I initially decided to go and draw at Newent House because I wanted to look at the ways that women behave in groups. As women tend to live longer than men, residential homes and day centers are interesting places to observe female group dynamics,” Moloney explained to The Huffington Post. “I have to admit, I had some preconceptions about what my week there would be like… I was worried it might be a bit depressing and that the residents might not want to chat to me. However, I was immediately struck by the incredible characters at Newent House — there was the most amazing combination of people ranging from the stern, the quiet, the naughty, the loving, the proud, to the cheeky.”
“By the end of my week at Newent House, the series had become about the identity and strength of the residents, more so than the ways they chatted to each other,” she added.
Moloney’s project challenges our perceptions of elderly care, raising the bar to include happiness, wellness and a sense of fulfillment. “It’s a way for people to socialize because there’s people out there in the community who don’t have anybody and isolation is a serious illness for older people,” another sketch of the day center points out. As residents write letters and playfully make jokes about bourbon, Moloney’s images reveal a different side of the elderly experience.
“I think elderly care is something people need to be talking about more. There are so many day centers and care homes which are doing an incredible job in providing spaces and support for people,” says Moloney. “This needs to be celebrated. On the other hand, there is such a problem with funding being cut and care homes suffering because of it. And this needs to be addressed.”
See a preview of Moloney’s project here and visit the artist’s website to learn more about her work.