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Ageing intelligence on display in new hybrid exhibition at Newcastle Helix

A new exhibition has launched on Newcastle Helix to commemorate the United Nations International Day of Older Persons (October 1).

Lead by the National Innovation Centre for Ageing (NICA), the exhibition is a celebration of human experiences and features people from diverse cultural and professional backgrounds.

North East Times lead photographer, Christopher Owens, who was recently shortlisted for the British Journal of Photography’s Portrait of Humanity award, is the man behind the exhibit, working closely with NICA to share stories of ageing intelligence and experience with the world.

Chris took portraits of ten inspirational professionals from across the globe during the coronavirus lockdown, trying to capture their vision for a longer and healthier life through a computer screen.

The lockdown portraits include Jim Edwardson, founding director of the Institute for Ageing and Health at Newcastle University alongside Christine Kretz, from the International Space Station in the US.

Ermanno Lazzarin, founder of menswear label in Milan is also featured, as are Jeffrey Schnapp, a faculty director at Harvard University and co-founder of Piaggio Fast Forward, John Cohn, IBM fellow in MIT-IBM Watson AI Research Group, Lorella Zanardo, women’s rights activist and author, film director Marco Pozzi and Paul Parravano from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Chris said: “I always set out to capture the character and personality of my subjects to produce honest and truthful portraits.

“Producing this work for NICA has been a wonderful experience which will be remembered as a moment tied to this time of uncertainty.

“The opportunity to spend the morning making portraits in Milan and then Boston and hearing these inspirational stories first-hand will be a lasting memory and positive experience at a challenging time for the creative industry.

“Regardless of poor internet connections, language barriers and the challenge of creative direction through a screen, I have been able to produce meaningful portraits that reflect the spirit, knowledge, and insight of all contributors who wanted to share their life experiences.

“This process has confirmed my belief that a portrait is not simply made in a camera but on either side of it.”

Based at Newcastle University, NICA is the UK home of Ageing Intelligence®, bringing together data driven insight and human experiences to help bring new products, business models and services to market.

The exhibition celebrates this, involving international ambassadors to promote a vision to further facilitate a society that is better equipped to meet the opportunities and challenges of an ageing population.

Professor Nicola Palmarini, director of the UK’s National Innovation Centre for Ageing, added: “This is a unique way to introduce our Ageing Intelligence ambassadors, who will share their life experiences with you.

“These portraits are not only a way to get to know our subjects, their personality and character, they reflect a point in history that we will all remember for years to come.”