Over-60s Arts Care Exhibition

Crescent Arts Centre hosts work by amateur artists over 60 as part of the Here & Now Festival

'RIPE is an exciting new multi-media exhibition of artists who have developed their latent artistic talent in later life,' says Maria McManus of Arts Care, the arts and health care charity whose Here & Now Festival is currently taking place in venues across Northern Ireland until March 31.

Hosted by Belfast's Crescent Arts Centre, RIPE features work by amateur artists aged over 60 who have not previously staged solo exhibitions. It includes paintings, sculptural work, print work and more, and runs until February 15, whereupon it will travel to Titanic Belfast, the Island Arts Centre in Lisburn and elsewhere.

At 103-year-old, one Doris McCleery is the eldest artist featured – her Celtic-themed framed ceramic piece is thoroughly modern, and was one of the first entered following Arts Care's open call for submissions. It also marks a progression for McCeely, who took up wood carving in her 70s. 'We also have engineers, university professors, prosthetists and journalists,' adds McManus. 'We were delighted with the response.'

The definition of the exhibition's title is apt. According to McManus, it means 'ready for reaping or gathering. Advanced to the state of fitness for use. Ready for action or effect. Prepared.'

Malachi O'Doherty is a well-known author and journalist based in Belfast and has four photographs featured in the exhibition. 'I am a new photographer,' he revealed before the opening, 'beginning a new thing with a new level of seriousness at a later stage in life.

'That's what people should be doing, or what you would want people to be doing instead of sitting at home thinking, "Oh God, I'm near retirement age. My life is over". So I'm perfectly happy to be part of some kind of campaign to urge oldies to get off their bottoms and do things.'

RIPE is now in its second year, and will continue in the years ahead thanks to funding support from the Public Health Agency. McManus has highs hopes that more mature artists will submit work in the future. '[This exhibition] is about supporting people who haven't dared to dare, and about supporting people who have dared to do more.'

Visit the Arts Care website for more information on the Here & Now Festival.