Institute for Ageing

Eric Cross

Interview: Eric Cross

Eric Cross is Dean of Cultural Affairs.

Creative arts are playing an increasingly powerful role in helping the public become aware and understand more about ageing and its challenges.

Eric Cross - interview page

Major exhibitions

One way has been through a major exhibition, Coming of Age, mounted by Newcastle University at the Great North Museum.

The exhibition helped launch the Newcastle Initiative on Changing Age. It showed how ageing affected famous artists such as Renoir and Degas, and featured nude images of older people.

There were striking displays by three artists, Jennie Pedley, Andrew Carnie and Annie Cattrell, representing the work of medical scientists in the University’s Institute for Ageing and Health.

Professor Eric Cross, the University’s Dean of Cultural Affairs, was particularly impressed with Valerie Laws’ poem ‘The Incredible Shrinking Brain’. In sequence, words were taken out of it, creating changing messages about ageing and the role of language in stimulating memories.

Enthusiastic reviews of the exhibition were published in magazines ranging from the British Medical Journal and The Lancet through to Grazia in the world of fashion and celebrity.

More recently, another exhibition at the University’s Hatton Gallery with a relevance to ageing has been mounted by Susan Aldworth and other artists, exploring the subject of schizophrenia.

Ageing Creatively project

A pilot research project, Ageing Creatively, involving workshops in visual arts, music and creative writing, is now exploring ways of gathering evidence about the beneficial impact of these activities on the well-being of older people and combating social isolation.

"What we hope to come out of this is some reliable evidence that we will have found the means of measuring that impact," said Professor Cross.

The study is funded by research councils led by the Medical Research Council. Projects such as this are building bridges between the creative arts, science and other disciplines throughout the University, added Professor Cross.

Contact Eric Cross about his research.

Read more about helping healthy ageing.