How to describe a rich, passionate, and extraordinary 100 years of life? While it may be impossible to define with words, a group of South Australian teenagers are attempting the feat with images, all with the help of our incredible Regis Marleston residents.

The Centenarian Portrait Project by Teenagers is an initiative in which 100 teenagers are paired with 100 senior citizens to capture on paper the essence of what it is like to live for 100 years. Storytelling and the reminiscing of cherished memories guide the hand of the artist who uses their tools to craft a portrait of a life well-lived.

The first collaboration is between Regis Marleston Centenarian Roy Freeth and 18-year-old artist Molly Hambridge-Hay. The intergenerational project has brought a lot of joy and laughter to the pair, who instantly hit it off and thoroughly enjoy spending time with one another. Seeing young and old come together to create a beautiful artwork is captivating for the entire team, who are waiting with bated breath for a chance to glimpse the finished product.

Roy and Molly treasure sharing precious stories and experiences, with Molly learning what it was like for Roy to grow up in Kimbra, a rural service town at the top of the Eyre Peninsula. Roy has been a much-loved resident at Regis Marleston for many years. Having grown up in the country, Roy left his farming background to pursue a career as a telephone technician, where he helped build the communication network. Molly reflected this in her artwork by integrating telephone poles into the piece, highlighting his long and happy career and spotlighting his vital contribution to society.

With a heart of gold and boundless compassion, Roy’s outlook on life is an inspiration to all. Having lived through World Wars, the Polio epidemic, and most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic, Roy’s spirit remains unbroken. He is grateful for his long life and successful marriage, as well as his family and grandchildren by his side. Although his letter from the Queen features proudly on his wall, Molly’s incredible artwork isn’t too far away and is a tender reminder of a fantastic, shared experience that encompasses his remarkable life.

When asked about the secret to his longevity and optimistic view of life, Roy simply says, “take a deep breath and get on with it.” A lesson for all from a wise gentleman.

The Centenarian Portrait Project by Teenagers exhibition will run from 21 to 30 June 2022, with Molly and Roy planning to meet and admire their artwork on display together.

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