Introducing an Illustrated Monograph
The Experience of Being 70 or Over: I am delighted to welcome and commend the publication of this Monograph by Dr Mannie Sher, describing a unique part of the Tavistock Institute’s 70th Festival last year – a Group Relations event for the silver generation: exclusively for people of 70+ years (including the staff!).
GR70 – spanning 4 mornings – was a place to discuss their experiences of this stage of life and to think about their changed and changing roles. And further, to consider the implications of these for them and their families; their work and/or retirement; and wider society.
Not only was it a forum for reflection on individual experiences; it was based on Tavistock Group Relations methods of interpreting current experience, specifically in a group setting, around what might be going on under the surface:
The group dynamics that emerged were perhaps surprisingly characterised by a mixture of sadness and hope; by a sense of ending and a desire to investigate new possibilities; by the loss of friendships and intimacy and by the wonderful discovery of the power of the group to support people in fresh challenges, in forming new friendships and deepening relationships.
Nothing was taboo; it was possible to talk about anything and everything: and although for a while at the beginning, discussions focused mainly on illness, loss and death; by the third day, people were making plans and enjoying encouraging one another to gather up the energy to strike out, take risks and embark on new adventures.
Juliet Scott, the Tavistock Institute’s Artist-in-Residence, has beautifully illustrated the Monograph with delicate, lively and poignant images that bear witness to in-the-moment transformations that the event offered.
GR70 chimed with another Festival event, Bed: a street theatre event devised and performed by members of Entelechy’s Elders Performance Company highlighting stories of loneliness and isolation that affect many of their peers; and the Centre for Ageing Better who was one of the Festival sponsors.
The 70th Festival, was in part celebrating our Archive becoming live at the Wellcome Library – delving into our history and the Institute’s identity and how this has been shaped over time and space. The GR70 event expressed the Festival’s theme, Re-imagining Human Relations in Our Time, wonderfully, through the re-imaginings of the participants.
Mannie has recently had a letter published on the subject of the NHS’ latest airbnb plan for the recovering elderly in The Guardian and it is his modest hope that the publication of this Monograph will cast new light on ageing and will encourage older people everywhere to come together in groups for support, encouragement and inspiration.
Download: On being an Orphan – an untold story a monograph by Dr Eliat Aram, the Keynote Lecture in the Symposium: In the Shadow and Light of the Archive at the 70th Festival