Photo exhibition celebrates older people and tackles stereotypes at the National Library of Wales

An exhibition that aims to break down negative stereotypes of older people will go on show at The National Library for Wales to mark The United Nations International Day of the Older Person.

Twelve people from across Wales aged 65 to 85 tell their stories through a photo series taken by acclaimed photographer Jon Pountney.

From a punk-rocker to a mountain-sheep-farmer and wild swimmers to allotment keepers 'This is Older' celebrates the diversity of older people.

“I am often inspired by the communities around me — my work is rooted in people, place, and history" says Jon.

“I hope that with these extraordinary stories told through imagery, we can change the narrative around older people and showcase the depth and breadth of experience we gain when growing old.”

Sheila Kamala, 78 and Linette Johnson, 71, at STARGarlott Community Allotment in Splott. Credit: Jon Pountney

Linette Johnson and Sheila Kamala credit an active life with keeping themselves on their toes and dislike when older people are portrayed as passive and deserving of pity.

“We don’t fit into that mould [of older stereotypes] and a lot of people don’t fit into that mould," says Linette.

"We hope what we're doing actually encourages people to take interest in something else. For those who've got the physical ability and the mental health, to do something positive go for it!"

"Let's be positive and think positive and do positive things."

Patrick Dobbs, from Llanddeusant. Credit: Jon Pountney

85-year old Patrick Dobbs is a mountain sheep farmer who hopes to still be working his Brecon Beacon-based farm for “another ten years – with a bit of help.”

Jay Edwards, 67, worked as a neonatal intensive care nurse in her native Australia, before moving to the UK. Credit: Jon Pountney

Jay and Helen have been married for over 20 years, and they have 12 grandchildren. Four in Britain and 8 living in Australia.

Jay's advice is: "In our heads, we’re not old, it’s just our bodies telling us.

"It’s all perspective; make the most of time- don’t worry about anything. Above all be kind to people."

Gaynor Jones, 69, from Garw Valley Credit: Jon Pountney

Gaynor is a great fan of dance who loves to restore classic motorbikes in her spare time.

Chrissy Bolton, from Rhos on Sea, with the Colwyn Bay Bluetits swimming group. Credit: Jon Pountney

A survivor of cancer who lost her partner in 2019, 65-year-old Chrissy uses sea swimming to help her feel alive and invigorated while suffering from fibromyalgia and polymyalgia.

Paul Searle, 68, and partner Jackie Bagnall, 61. Credit: Jon Pountney

Paul Searle is a former petrochemical engineer and has transformed his allotment garden into a haven for wildlife.

Martin Briggs, 70, is a painter and printmaker in Canton, Cardiff. Credit: Jon Pountney

A painter and printmaker who plays in a local orchestra, Martin Briggs somehow also manages to find time to enjoy sailing in Cardiff Bay.

Taibach Rugby Club pantomime performers, Port Talbot. Credit: Jon Pountney

Victoria Lloyd, Chief Executive of Age Cymru, who collaborated on this project said: “There’s no such thing as a “typical” older person, and looking carefully at each of the images showcased in our This Is Older exhibition will help the general public to recognise that being older doesn’t mean one loses their individuality.

“We’re so proud of the exhibition and Jon’s work, and hope the public enjoy learning about the lives behind the photos as much as we have.”

This Is Older is open with free admission until 10 December 2021 at the Gregynog Gallery, the National Library for Wales, Aberystwyth.