Old Women of the Almshouse.

Old Women of the Almshouse

Homage to Franz Hals’ (1580-1666) Regentesses of the Old Men’s Almshouse (1664), which is quoted in the background. The sitters were recruited through Plymouth Age Concern. Lenkiewicz’s diary for 1979 comments modestly on his own effort, "Poor Hals!"

With the co-operation of Age Concern director Elspeth Sitters, Lenkiewicz delivered a lecture on the theme of ‘Geriatrics versus Gerontology’ disguised as an elderly professor. The Yiddish proverb ‘Dying while young is a boon in old age’ and ‘Someone once asked Maurice Chevalier what it was like to be ninety and he said “Great when you consider the alternative”’ were just a couple of the milder quotes Lenkiewicz presented – a message "far removed from the Age Concern thesis of a green old age".

Lenkiewicz included the elderly in his studies for the Sexual Behaviour Project (1983) and for a time it seemed as though he would be permitted to speak again at the Age Concern centre close to his Barbican studio on the theme of ‘Sex and the elderly’ and to show a medical film depicting sexual activity between elderly people. However, when the matter was considered by the full committee they elected instead to give a lecture on housing. Lenkiewicz remarked "it goes to show that there were people very open to the idea, until it got to a Christian committee, of presenting information that elderly people have sexual desires in exactly the same way as anyone else".

Note: Listed as No. 36 Old ladies of nearby Community Centre in the 1980 retrospective.


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