The North Melbourne artist confronting ageism

Kaylah Joelle Baker

Local North Melbourne artist and So50 founder Magno Barros is using his skills in photography and artificial intelligence to challenge traditional views around ageing.

The inspiration for the Ageing Reframed series came about after Mr Barros began to notice a pattern of people facing discrimination simply because of their age.

It was this perception and curiosity around his own age from other people that originally spurred him on to inspire others to live life their own way, no matter their age, through his organisation So50.

“It took me a while to realise that society has certain expectations about how one should look at a certain age, which can be damaging and cause angst for many people,” he told North West City News.

“Ultimately, my goal with this [Ageing Reframed] work is to promote greater appreciation for older adults and to inspire positive change in the way we think about ageing.”

“By giving a face and a name to the many stories about ageism that we hear about, I hope to challenge people to rethink their perceptions of ageing.”

Through interviewing a number of people who connect with So50, and taking their photos, Mr Barros has challenged negative stereotypes, while also celebrating the beauty and strength that can come with age.

“Contrary to the standard depiction of older adults as frail or in decline, my subjects are portrayed as confident and independent. They proudly display and celebrate the physical signs of ageing, such as grey hair and wrinkles, rather than concealing them,” he said.

“The jewellery worn by my subjects is also symbolic, representing the richness and gifts that come with their life experiences.”

While Mr Barros has become deeply connected to all his works, two that have stood out are Ellie and David.

As a 70-year-old widow, Ellie is described as being full of life and eager to find love again, although due to her age she has faced “prejudice and resistance from her own children”.

Through her powerfully fierce image, Mr Barros strives to challenge the concept that love, and finding love, is only for the young.

David’s image on the other hand, serves to represent that at a certain age, older people can be treated as less than capable, rather than being respected for their wisdom and expertise.

“David’s story is a powerful reminder that ageism doesn’t just affect those who are retired but can impact people at all stages of their professional and personal journeys,” Mr Barros said.

“Both portraits are based on real-life experiences and are meant to spark conversations and raise awareness about the harmful effects of ageism.”

Despite not having a studio yet, Mr Barros has made the most of the garage at his North Melbourne home by turning it into a dedicated workshop.

As a proud North Melbourne resident, having a studio to display his works in is a dream that he is hopeful will come to fruition, although he did express concern about limited spaces often “favouring younger artists”.

“I love living and working in North Melbourne. It’s a characterful and peaceful neighbourhood, with lush gardens, fantastic local businesses, and a super-friendly community,” he said.

“I would love to show my work in a gallery or studio space in North Melbourne. The area boasts stunning heritage spaces that would make perfect venues for displaying my art, connecting with other artists and creatives in the region and engaging with the local community.”

Mr Barros’ Ageing Reframed works can be enjoyed online through his website, otherwise they can be viewed in-person at a number of upcoming art shows in Bendigo, Kilmore and Frankston. •

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John Buncle

John Buncle

February 14th, 2024 - Felicity Jack
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