Growing Old Competitively – New Exhibition Challenges Ageing Stereotypes

Visitors to Forth Valley Royal Hospital will notice a stunning new exhibition by photographer Alex Rotas which focuses on international athletes ranging in age from 60 to more than 90 plus, in addition to a selection from her series of senior Scottish sports participants.

The project is a collaboration with the Park Gallery at Callendar House and involved pupils from Larbert High School who helped install the pictures as part of their summer work experience

Each athlete is portrayed in action at their chosen event, including the sprint, hurdles, long and high jump, pole vault and distance races, often as they achieve a record-breaking or medal winning result.

Alex Rotas hopes the body of work will challenge widely held misconceptions about what growing older means and encourage fresh thinking on how older people can stay fit, healthy, engaged and happy. She explains: “I first became interested in photographing older competitive sports people when I realised that as a swimmer, tennis player and runner I was becoming one myself!

“Yet when I studied how over-60s are portrayed in popular culture, I realised it was usually as infirm, immobile, spent and sad. So, I set out to capture positive images of active elders enjoying sport and soon discovered they are not a rare and exotic species; they are present in every locality and with a select few achieving times or distances that compare very respectably with those of much younger athletes.”

The new exhibition pieces has already attracted positive attention with patients, visitors and staff commenting on how uplifting and inspiring they were.

Curated by Artlink Central for NHS Forth Valley, Growing Old Competitively features 12 images by Alex Rotas. Featured Masters Athletes include: Dorothy McClennan, Ireland; Brita Kiesheyer, Germany;  Hugh McGinlay, Scotland; Irene Obera, USA; Ingrid Meier, Germany; Richard Rzehak, Germany;  Olga Kotelko, Canada; Jeanne Daprano, USA; Phyllis Hands, Scotland; Jim Smith, Scotland; Ikuko Suzuki, Japan; Dalbir Singh Deol, UK; and Angela Copson, UK.