There is over 85 years between them – and more than a generation or two – but that hasn’t stopped 101-year-old William Newbold develop a fast friendship with 16-year-old Finn Brophy.
The two were paired as part of The Centenarian Portrait Project by Teenagers (Embraced), which sees young, budding artists chat to and paint centenarians, with a focus on celebrating seniors and challenging people’s negative perceptions of ageing.
And as a result of many hours of chitting, chatting and painting, a celebratory morning tea was held at Mr Newbold’s aged care residence last month – Regis North Fremantle – to celebrate the completion of the portrait, the success of the initiative and Finn and Bill’s now fast friendship.
“I am absolutely honoured to have my portrait painted, Finn is such a talented young man and I have enjoyed sharing my stories with him,” says Mr Newbold, who is a born and bred West Australian, having lived in Geraldton for much of his life, where he was a cray fisherman, talented artist and husband to Iris – which he has now been for more than 70 years.
“It’s amazing what his hands have created, I’ve enjoyed the whole experience and the portrait is now hanging in pride of place in my bedroom at Regis North Fremantle,” says William, who had around a dozen sessions with Finn over the course of the project.
As part of the portrait sittings, Bill was able to share his life experiences with Finn, including his many years as a fisherman, his passion for making sundials, and his love for his family, including his beloved wife, his three children, eight grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren, two of whom now live in Norway.
And although initially William and Finn arguably didn’t have much in common, that soon changed during the course of the project when the pair spent time together and really got to know each other.
“It has been a once in a lifetime experience to speak with Bill and paint his portrait,” says the young artist and Year 11 student Finn Brophy. “I will cherish the interactions we have had always and forever.”
Maree Thomter, Regis North Fremantle General Manager, says The Centenarian Portrait Project by Teenagers was an outstanding initiative that united people of different generations who wouldn’t otherwise come into contact with each other, and which harnessed the wisdom and experience of older generations.
“It has been quite incredible to witness William and Finn’s relationship develop over time, and also see the end result, which is such an outstanding portrait of an incredible man who has lived life to the full,” Ms Thomter says.
“How wonderful for Bill who, at nearly 102, had the opportunity to experience something new, and to make a friend 86 years his junior. And by the same token, how interesting for Finn to spend time with someone of a completely different generation with so many incredible life experiences to impart.”
“At Regis North Fremantle, we will always support our residents to continue to lead fulfilled, rich and engaged lives, and also have the opportunity to enjoy and take part in new and interesting experiences – it’s all part and parcel of supporting our residents to live happy and fulfilled lives.”
Find out more about The Centenarian Portrait Project by Teenagers from Embraced via their website.