The Centenarian Portrait Project by Teenagers – 100 Canberra

AAR-100-Canberra-Ronald-Fraser-by-Lisa-LyThe Centenarian Portrait Project by Teenagers (Centenarian Portrait Project), which has captivated communities across Australia, is celebrating its finale with a national exhibition in Canberra at the Belconnen Arts Centre.

Titled 100 Canberra, the exhibition features a selection of 100 portraits curated from the 465 artworks developed through the Centenarian Portrait Project. Hailed as the nation’s most extensive intergenerational arts initiative, the Centenarian Portrait Project has connected 465 hundred-year-olds with 465 teenage artists.

The resulting artworks become a unique gift, immortalising the bond between subject and artist. The diversity in style, approach and medium reflect the intergenerational process undertaken by each teenager and super senior.

Rose Connors Dance, Centenarian Portrait Project creator and Embraced Inc Creative Director said that it was designed to promote understanding, counteract age-related stereotypes and foster a sense of unity between generations through artistic expression and storytelling.

“We brought members of the community together, who otherwise may never have met. These meetings and the opportunity to connect through art have resulted in meaningful friendships, giving both groups an enormous sense of understanding, purpose and self-esteem,” she said.

“The interactions have contributed to breaking down loneliness and the negative ageing stigma. It’s been a privilege to expand the initiative over the last seven years and very heart-warming to now revisit portraits from the whole journey, which feels like reuniting with old friends,” said Rose..

Since 2017, the Centenarian Portrait Project has brought together centenarians and teenage pairings from every state in Australia. This year, an additional nine pairs from the ACT and two pairs from the Northern Territory will join the project, ensuring representation from all states and territories at 100 Canberra.

The Hon Dr. Kay Patterson AO, Age Discrimination Commissioner who has been involved since its inception said the Centenarian Portrait Project has shone a spotlight on the diverse lives of older Australians while fostering meaningful connections between them and young people – making a major contribution to breaking down ageism.

“This project is possibly the largest of its kind in Australia. Research has shown that education and intergenerational relationships are the most effective ways to reduce ageism. This project has sparked magical relationships, understanding and strong bonds across age groups spanning eighty to ninety years and more,” said Dr Patterson.

100 Canberra is a fitting finale for this beautiful project. The exhibition highlights the rich tapestry of life in our country, not only through these beautiful artworks, but the stories behind them, uncovered through the connections between our young and older Australians,” she said.

Sean Bilton, CEO of Estia Health said that as a national provider of aged care services, they have been fortunate to have many of their residents feature in artworks.

“We have been involved since 2018, and have seen the positive impact the Centenarian Portrait Project has had on residents, their families, our employees and the young artists. It has been a remarkable journey and a privilege to be involved as the major event sponsor for the project,” he said.

Bilton went on to say as a national provider of aged care services there are many benefits associated with direct intergenerational contact. “As a society we don’t often stop to consider the experiences and impact an individual can have in 100 years of living,” he said.

“So if you have the opportunity, I would highly recommend that everyone, no matter their age, visit 100 Canberra, to learn more about what it is like to be a centenarian and witness the extraordinary talent of these young artists,” said Sean.

One of the centenarians featured in the exhibition is Tasmanian Brian Winspear. Seventeen year old artist, Mack Brown said that Brian (aged 102) was an inspiration.

“I love that he still lives independently, drives his car to the shops and even cooks a mean date slice,” said Mack. “It has been a treat to meet Brian on several occasions now and get to know the person he is today and the life journey he has taken to make him the man he is.”

The Centenarian Portrait Project by Teenagers 100 Canberra exhibition continues at the Belconnen Arts Centre until 2 July 2023. For more information, visit: or for details.

Image: Ronald Fraser by Lisa Ly