An art series painting for the ages

Jun 2 2016

HMRI’s annual Art Series painting was unveiled today by medical researcher Professor Julie Byles and artist Donna Buck.

Professor Byles won the 2015 HMRI Award for Research Excellence and the artwork reflects her work in the important field of gerontology and healthy ageing, most significantly with her leadership of the 20-year Australian Longitudinal Study of Women’s Health.

As co-director of the HMRI Public Health program, Director of the University of Newcastle’s PRC for Gender, Health and Ageing and also Director of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health, Professor Byles’ research is improving service delivery for an ageing global population. It is changing perceptions by showing it’s possible for us to stay healthy well into our senior years.

Donna Buck’s painting is titled “The Triumph of Age”, a landscape that celebrates the journey of the life course and the triumph of older age.

“The scene is reminiscent of the local Hunter Valley region, and the roads and hills represent the paths and choices we take through our life such as healthy lifestyle, social interaction, community involvement, and use of health services,” her artist statement says.

“Professor Byles’s desire to change the negative perception of ageing is symbolised where the paint drips down the canvas as though the negative connotations just drip away. I grew these lines into what appears as a road map and are a metaphor for staying connected with the community and making use of health services available.

“Selected positive statements from the women’s longitudinal study are incorporated in the painting, like sheets of handwritten notes that appear as vineyard crop rows in the valley. The sky in the distance, a statement of no boundaries and the insight and research taken onto the world stage.” 

One of Professor Byles' career highlights has been her work with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs investigating social, psychological and health-care needs of older people. At the same time, the ALSWH study continues to provide evidence to the Australian Department of Health and Ageing for policy developments that affect women as they age.