Art is a language that not only bridges cultures, but also resonates with all ages. And while there is no shortage of programmes catering to the young, history shows us that it’s never too late for creativity to bloom in one’s advanced ages.

Never too late to start
A perfect example is Grandma Moses, an American folk painter who rose to prominence in the 1950s after picking up painting while she was in her 70s. Her paintings went on to grace the covers of Time and Life magazines. When she was 88, she was awarded the “Young Woman of the Year” by Mademoiselle Magazine.

Last year’s Singapore Arts Festival paid tribute to another famous centenarian who recently passed away, Kazuo Ohno. Known widely to have founded Japanese Butoh, Ohno performed his first recital only when he was 43. Even though Ohno lost his ability to walk when he was 94, he continued to develop new ways of expressing himself through the movement of his hands. He made his final public appearance at a gala celebrating his 100th birthday, and continued to live until the ripe old age of 103.

Be it through music, painting, or dance, art never stops being a source of inspiration in our daily lives, challenging the way we perceive the world, and lifting our spirits in the process. This is perfectly encapsulated in this year’s Singapore Arts Festival, in the performance of "End of the Road" by the Young@Heart Chorus from the US. The group comprises singers ranging from 73 to 90 years old. Their energy and vivaciousness in their performances belie their ages; their repertoire extends far beyond the golden-oldies to include more contemporary songs by rock bands such as Sonic Youth and the Rolling Stones, and even early punk (The Ramones).

End of the Road” by Young@Heart Chorus
End of the Road” by Young@Heart Chorus
Photo Credit_Hugo_Glendinning

Never Stop Growing
Locally, we’ve seen arts initiatives such as Theatre For Seniors, launched by the Necessary Stage in 2008. Aimed at participants aged 50 and above, the programme imparts not only basic drama skills, but also exposes its members to other aspects of theatre like playwriting and directing.

Apart from providing a forum for social interaction, Theatre For Seniors is also an avenue for participants to share their wealth of personal experience, bringing to the fore a new range of perspectives when looking at issues of cultural identity and history. They will be sharing their stories in their performance of "When I’m 64" at the Arts House.

The Arts allows us to re-discover our world, and as the sculptor Cyrus E Dallin once said, "We artists are always children, hoping, expecting something new and wonderful to happen. I tell my pupils that art keeps us young because it keeps us close to Nature. So long as we study her we have enthusiasm for our work, we grow ; growth is a characteristic of youth, old age alone stands still.”

Catch “End of the Road” by Young@Heart Chorus at the SOTA Drama Theatre from 23rd to 26th May at 8pm (Wed – Sat) and 3pm (Sat). Tickets available at SISTIC.

“When I’m 64” by Theatre Cell and Ageless Theatre will be performed on 2nd June at the Play Den @ The Arts House. Tickets available through the Arts House box office; more information is available on their website.

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