About the Age of Love
Age of Love addresses the prejudice and discrimination that older adults can experience around intimate relationships and sex.
We know from scientific research and by talking to older adults that intimacy and sex can be a meaningful part of life. However, many experience barriers to talking about this with partners, friends, or health and social care professionals.
The topic is sensitive and almost always private, and because of social stereotypes conversations around these topics in older age are considered taboo. Stereotypes about ageing can interfere with intimate expression and enjoyment, even preventing older adults from receiving appropriate help for their concerns.
Age of Love has been developed to tackle this: to enable safe spaces where people can chat about sensitive topics without judgement or prejudice, in an environment which is convivial and confidential. And to support practitioners to have these conversations with service users.
We use art to present a visualisation of the topic; one which helps us to think and talk about these issues.
Relationships are central to human life and one of the most important that we have is with our intimate other
In 2018, Dr Sharron Hinchliff worked with Pete McKee, an artist from Sheffield, to produce 12 original works of art that were exhibited at Sheffield’s Festival of the Mind. The art was based on key findings from Sharron's research in the area of ageing, intimacy, and sexual well-being.
Sharron, a University of Sheffield academic, has been researching the area of relationships and intimacy in older adulthood since 2001. She has worked with many organisations and service providers who wish to increase their understanding of the sexual rights of older adults and provide an inclusive service.
Pete McKee is Sheffield born and bred. His work explores various themes including working class culture and humour. Pete grew up on a council estate during the '60s and '70s in Sheffield, a city rooted in the steel industry. He has collaborated with many creative individuals and companies including Paul Smith, the Arctic Monkeys, Richard Hawley, Oasis, and BBC 6 Music.
Following the success of the Festival of the Mind exhibition and the conversations that took place with visitors to the gallery, Sharron worked with the University to come up with a social enterprise model that could reach far and wide – both within and outside the UK. Age of Love will periodically commission, through open competition, artists to respond to Sharron’s research just as Pete McKee did.