The JOY Exhibition

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The JOY Team | Newcastle | 2020 Karen Ross, Project Lead Juliet Chenery-Robson, Photographer Alex Henry, Facilitator Supported by the UK National Innovation Centre for Ageing

JOY Joy1 n.1. Vivid emotion or pleasure, gladness. 2. Thing that causes delight (OED)

The JOY project came out of a growing exasperation with popular culture and especially advertising’s messages that ageing for women is a process we should try to halt or at least mask. And that the only future for the older woman is a dystopian one of bodily failure and intellectual loss. At the same time, some voices suggest that we are blighting all our children’s futures with our selfish insistence on remaining alive but pathetic into our 90s, causing an intolerable burden on society. For many of us in our 60s, 70s and 80s, these identikit/identigit old hag/bags are unrecognisable as people like us because we are enjoying our lives, working, loving and contributing to the lives of others and to our colleagues, communities, friends and families. While we acknowledge that too many people are living in poverty, in poor health or loneliness, age is not the only causal factor and the JOY project is a corrective to the discourses of abject decline, celebrating the power of positive thinking and engagement with life. In summer 2019, the JOY team invited local women in Newcastle to share with us the things that bring them joy through story-telling workshops which centred on both the tangible as well as the more fleeting moments of joyfulness. What bring us joy is many and varied, from the feel of sun on a cheek, to holding new life in our arms, from swinging in hammocks to making music with others, from taking photos of nature to playing fetch with our dog, from family gettogethers to the glorious solitude of a mountain top. This exhibition was co-created with some brilliant women who gave up their time to tell us about their moments, days, weeks and lifetimes of joy. The exhibition comprises collages, word cloud and film (that can be viewed by clicking here) which feature all the participants, and a set of portraits which feature some of them. This is what JOY looks like to us: we hope it brings a moment of joy to you as well. Click here to view the exhibition in The Catalyst. Thanks to a great group of women for making this a wonderful project to work on.

Karen, Juliet & Alex

making crazy loud music and leaping about with friends in the band, slash-and-burn gardening, then sitting in the shade of a tree I planted - balance Fin

sassy, loud, and proud, in my mutton-dressed-as-lamb I’m strutting my stuff! Janet

here, strength becomes glide, becomes a return to beginnings Carla

at one with nature on this historic ship, an amazing adevnture while learning new skills Judith

joy is in my heart; its gift sets you free: remembering Emily Wilding Davison and hopeful for future generations of girls and women Penni

playing the piano is rewarding, I feel like a professional musician! Rajinder

gently working the flock, the breeze in my face, the look in their eyes, what joy and hope they bring into my life Aileen

Floss brings me joy and unconditional love: we work as a team on the agility course and share in the enjoyment of success Christine

joy of life, life of joy: listening to birds singing, walking in countryside & urban nature reserves & cherishing the joy of a lesbian life Lisa

allotment and me, and sunshine makes three, I’m happy in my green heaven! Jane

in my hammock I feel luxurious, at one with myself and nature, relaxing into the freedom of space Louise

joy comes from my roots in South America: objects in my home remind me of happy days and my wonderful mother Isabel

there’s more to me than meets the eye! Shirley

I love my morning shower, a clean sheet of paper, a sharpened pencil, the smell of spring and the day spread out in front of me Suzy

with many thanks to ...our fabulous JOYful participants Aileen Hay Anwar Bibi Barbara Willis-Clark Bernadette Askins Bernie Wright Bridget Cuthbertson Carla Grosch-Miller Catherine Mackereth Cecilia Dalrymple Charn Kaur Christine Parker Doreen Hardy Elizabeth Atton Ellen Pethean Farida Rehman Fin McMorran Hilary Fawcett Isobel Horseman Jane Gifford Janet Longbottom Joan Girdlestone Judith Rust

Kate Hinton Lesli Godfrey Linda Willis Lisa Hunt Liz Potts Louise Evan-Wong Minakshi Pagul Naseem Aktar Naseem Laatif Pauline Curwen Penni Blythe Prakash Kaur Rajinder Kaur Rashida Choudry Sarah Kemp Shirley Hallam Shishta Quereshi Suzy Varty Urmila Bhalla Yvette Haimes Zeenat Bibi

Please leave us your thoughts on the exhibition by clicking HERE

Š Newcastle University

Photography credit: Juliet Chenery-Robson