Tyne & Wear

Newcastle 'living room' highlights elderly loneliness

"Home Alone" set Image copyright Sharon Bailey
Image caption An actress plays the part of a number of people the artist visited

An "outdoor living room" in a city centre market aims to highlight the loneliness of elderly people.

Artist Sharon Bailey visited people who lived alone and often saw no-one else for long periods of time, and turned their stories into a live performance.

It features an actress delivering a monologue in a specially-created living room furnished with objects and photos from their own homes.

The installation runs at Newcastle's Grainger Market until Tuesday.

Entitled Home Alone, the exhibition aims to bring "what is normally hidden from view... to public attention".

Sharon Bailey said she had heard a lot in the news about day centres closing, and the crisis in social care, but had also seen at first-hand how older people were struggling to live independently.

After getting a grant from the Arts Council she visited about 15 older people in Newcastle, Gateshead and Durham, and recorded their experiences.

Image caption The exhibition is in one of the units in the Grainger Market

She said: "The words from the diary and the transcriptions from the interviews I gave to writer Catrina McHugh and from this mass of material she's created a really poignant monologue.

"I had the idea of an outdoor living room which would contain pictures that I'd taken but also I borrowed pictures from people's houses to make it kind of authentic, and Barbara Heslop (an actress) sits there and delivers it.

"It's hard-hitting, but I think it's really important because a lot of it is hidden behind closed doors.

"People are feeling forgotten, feeling under-valued, almost like they aren't part of the community any more - it's something we should all be aware of."

Image copyright Sharon Bailey
Image caption Photographs and objects from people's house are used in the installation