A moving portrait of a father and daughter relationship and a case for late-stage creativity from Emily Urquhart, the bestselling author of Beyond the Pale: Folklore, Family, and the Mystery of Our Hidden Genes.
“The fundamental misunderstanding of our time is that we belong to one age group or another. We all grow old. There is no us and them. There was only ever an us.” — from The Age of Creativity
It has long been thought that artistic output declines in old age. When Emily Urquhart and her family celebrated the eightieth birthday of her father, the illustrious painter Tony Urquhart, she found it remarkable that, although his pace had slowed, he was continuing his daily art practice of drawing, painting, and constructing large-scale sculptures, and was even innovating his style. Was he defying the odds, or is it possible that some assumptions about the elderly are flat-out wrong? After all, many well-known visual artists completed their best work in the last decade of their lives, Turner, Monet, and Cézanne among them. With the eye of a memoirist and the curiosity of a journalist, Urquhart began an investigation into late-stage creativity, asking: Is it possible that our best work is ahead of us? Is there an expiry date on creativity? Do we ever really know when we’ve done anything for the last time?
The Age of Creativity is a graceful, intimate blend of research on ageing and creativity, including on progressive senior-led organizations, such as a home for elderly theatre performers and a gallery in New York City that only represents artists over sixty, and her experiences living and travelling with her father. Emily Urquhart reveals how creative work, both amateur and professional, sustains people in the third act of their lives, and tells a new story about the possibilities of elder-hood.
About the author
Emily Urquhart is a writer and folklorist. She has a doctorate in folklore from Memorial University of Newfoundland and undergraduate degrees in journalism and art history. Her writing has appeared in AZURE, CBC.ca, FLARE and The Walrus and in the anthologies Stories from the Ice Storm, The First Man in my Life, and Time Now for the Vinyl Café Story Exchange. In 2014 she won a National Magazine Award for an article published in The Walrus about folklore and human differences, inspired by her daughter who has albinism. It has since been expanded into a book which is part memoir, part travelogue and part cultural critique. Beyond The Pale: Folklore, Family and the Mystery of our Hidden Genes will be published in March 2015 by HarperCollins. Emily lives in Victoria, BC, with her husband and daughter.