Reviews

The Great North Museum: Hancock in Newcastle is currently hosting the coming of Age exhibition; part of a nationwide campaign aimed at challenging negative perceptions of ageing by fusing the art & science of ageing together.

Many people in society are openly guilty of acting fearful of age and ageing. It is certainly a taboo subject. Years of dedicated research into technology, creating a spectacular revolution of ‘must have’ gadgets, yet we cannot comprehend the end of life and prospect of ageing.

Unbeknown to man, the average age of life expectancy has in fact significantly increased over the last 200 years, predominantly since the 1980’s. Previous demographic forecasts showed an imminent ceiling to life expectancy; however these earlier predictions are increasingly being shattered by current findings.

Lucy Jenkins, curator of the exhibition, looks at challenges, opportunities and responsibilities it brings to a new older generation. The ‘Changing Age’ campaign hopes to encourage ‘greater recognition of the positive contribution older people make to society’.

Of course, traditionally, people pass on in order to make way for new life and we know that life expectancy hasn’t always been so high, but when you consider the already increasing pressure on our economy, particularly the NHS; one of the greatest necessities for an ageing population, how will society cope with this great increase in older people? Well, this exhibition explores the rationale of the ageing process in a superb visual way.

Often art is the greatest medium for education, so how better to educate people and promote ageing than in this striking way. It’s clear in the message it conveys yet the artwork is incredibly thought-provoking. The exhibition is a collaboration between scientists at Newcastle University’s institute of ageing and health and artists, Andrew Carnie, Annie Cattrell and Jennie Pedley.

Each visual piece has a small story attached to it; usually of hope and triumph. The models signify the importance of having a network of friends and support to maintain a happy life and this is also the general consensus for their longevity. It is easy to walk away having left a part of yourself but bearing a piece of the magic within the exhibition, leaving you inspired to take care of yourself and others in the hope that you prolong life, happily in good health.

Art does have a wonderful way of revealing a subject to create many different interpretations and perspectives. This exhibition is most definitely a good example of a variety of mediums used to portray a subject in a way that continues to ‘filter through our consciousness long after the initial viewing’.

The Coming of Age exhibition is running throughout February and March 2011, entrance is free and programmes are £8. It is a must for anyone with a keen interest in art and photography as well as creating a dynamic approach to our inevitable ageing population and perceptions of the older generation.

 

Tuesday the 22 February saw the long awaited return of ‘Reel Big Fish’ at 53 Degrees in Preston. And oh what a show! Three supporting acts started the night off with a bang; New Riot performed a few tracks although the atmosphere was a little hard to break as they began their set quite early in the night and at this point the audience was scarce. As the crowds began to gather, The Skins appeared, a London based Reggae band with an interesting contemporary twist. The lead singer was on lead guitar, with a female vocalist centred with an eclectic mix of wind and brass instruments; she really stole the stage with talent.

Next came the crème de le crème of support acts; Suburban Legends….all the way from Orange County, they were incredible; a six piece band with lead and bass guitar, drums, lead singer and an amazing brass duo on trumpet and trombone. If Scissor Sisters and Orson came together to play Ska, Suburban Legends would be the outcome.

The stage presence of the vocalist was out of this world, he really got the crowd warmed up and screaming for more. The brass duo had some rib tickling choreography going on behind the lead singer, a truly amazing act with an extraordinary edge. As Suburban Legends left the stage, the theme tune to Superman came through the speakers and the room shook as people began stamping their feet, jumping and rocking round the floor; the lights went down and sure enough Reel Big Fish came onto the stage opening with ‘Sell Out’ – it was electric.

It took a while for the sound engineer to perfect the show, the vocals were drowned by the band to begin with but it was soon forgotten as the group got into the swing of things. For what appears to be a group of middle age men, they certainly still have their mojo. Their fashion sense left a lot to be desired but again, that brass/electric rhythm worked brilliantly and the crowd was soon drifting back to the good old 90’s and that underground Ska Punk sound.

Aaron Barrett, lead singer and only remaining founding member kept the crowd entertained with the odd play on words and half a dozen takes of Suburban Rhythm in styles from country to metal. It was a laugh and soon saw the beginnings of a huge ‘crowd surfing’ wave which stole the show for a short time while security were attempting to drag them into the stage gutter before being swept onto the stage.

They performed many hits including She’s Got a Girlfriend, Trendy and Brown Eyed Girl. Beer took them into the finale with crowds screaming for more and so they returned from the rafters with yep you guessed it… Take On Me! A real feel good gig and the pleasant surprise of entertainment from the supporting acts gave it overall great value for money at £14 a head.

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