David Bartholomew – Life through a Lens: photography exhibition

What the garden looked like before

You are invited to drop into the foyer at the Assembly Hall Theatre in Tunbridge Wells on Saturday to view On the Shoulders of Giants, a one day only pop-up exhibition by locally-based professional photographer David Bartholomew.

He has captured a series of photographs of residents from a Tunbridge Wells care home in order to challenge people to view the elderly of our community in a different light.

These striking black and white shots were taken by David at Rusthall Lodge Care Home, where his mother is a resident.

He was commissioned by the home to take the portraits, which were inspired by the Golden Age of Hollywood, as part of the their 50th anniversary celebrations.

Someone mentioned Lauren Bacall’s quote “Your life shows in the lines of your face…” and that was the show’s inspiration

“Shooting in the studio style of the golden Hollywood era really shows the different characters of the residents,” explains David.

“Some are playful, some stern, some thoughtful, but they are all arresting. I hope the display will make people stop and look and wonder about the people behind the images and make them see older members of the Tunbridge Wells community in a new light.”

The exhibition is part of a series of events being held throughout the year to create fun and memories for the residents of this independent home, which is run on a charitable ethos.

“The idea for the exhibition came after one of our reminiscence sessions,” says Bill Blackford, the Facilities & Marketing Manager at Rusthall Lodge.

“Residents were talking about their film heroes and various names were mentioned, including James Dean and David Niven. Someone mentioned Lauren Bacall and her famous quote ‘Your life shows in the line of your face and you should be proud of it’, and that was pretty much the show’s inspiration.

SNAP HAPPY David Bartholomew

“Putting a spotlight on our residents in this way highlights their characters and their lives,” continues Bill. “It challenges viewers to think about the older members of our community in a new, more rounded way, which is what we really want to achieve.”

The exhibition, which will then move to Rusthall Lodge itself, takes place on the same day as the The Bootleg Beatles will be performing in concert at the theatre.

“We’re delighted with the timing,” comments Bill. “The Bootleg Beatles are an ideal fit for our photo exhibition – 1968 was the year that Rusthall Lodge was converted from a private residence into a care home; the same year that The Beatles stayed at number one in the album charts until February with Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and released The White Album later in the year.”

Antony Pickthall, Sales and Marketing Director at the Assembly Hall, says he is delighted to host a unique exhibition such as this.

“As a key cultural venue in Tunbridge Wells, the Assembly Hall Theatre is always looking for opportunities to enhance the experience of our audiences.

“Many of those attending The Bootleg Beatles concert will have parents of a similar age to the residents of Rusthall Lodge, so this exhibition will resonate with them.”

Bethan Minter, Creative Learning Manager at the Assembly Hall, is in agreement: “This exhibit is a great example of artists using their skills to brighten the lives of those around them. At the Assembly Hall we’re enthusiastic about engaging with the community around us; bringing our community into the heart of our building and celebrating local creativity.”

On The Shoulders of Giants is open all day at the Assembly Hall on Saturday [October 20], and entrance is free.

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