Flesh after Fifty


We live in a society swamped with images, where high value is placed on physical appearance and an association between attractiveness and youth, particularly for women. Flesh after Fifty will explore and challenge negative stereotypes of aging whilst celebrating and promoting positive images of older women through art.

Australian artists have a history of photographing, painting and sculpting the female form, mostly by and for men whose interest in exploring youth, vulnerability and beauty has dominated the images we recognise. The way in which artists portray older women often reflects public attitudes. Images of older women have changed over the last century as fashion, community, politics and society have changed. Much of the time, images of older women are absent altogether. Some artists, however, are able to rise above fashion and convention to externalise personal desires and aspirations that challenge preconceived perceptions and expectations.

Flesh after Fifty will bring to the fore images that need revisiting or have been overlooked from key Australian public collections. Re-interpreting images will be a focus for this exhibition, exploring untold stories that reveal the way in-which fashion, ageism and oppression of women has influenced which images/art have become popular and how that has affected the way in which women artists are represented in collections today. Contemporary and newly commissioned art made by Victorian artists will be included.

A variety of talks, forums, events and functions will be held to coincide with the exhibition in 2020.


Professor Martha Hickey
is a clinical psychologist and gynaecologist. She is Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Melbourne, Director of Gynaecology Research Centre at the Royal Women’s Hospital, Head of Menopause Service at the Women’s and Visiting Professor at Harvard University.

Her research and clinical work are focused on healthy ageing in women, including both physical and emotional health. She conceived this project out of concern that the message to younger women about menopause ageing was almost exclusively negative and did not reflect the capability, diversity and achievements of older women.

She has extensive experience in designing, running and completing research projects with over 300 publications in women’s health. She has established collaborations the auspicing body (the Women‘s Foundation) and with Women’s Health Victoria. She is a powerful advocate of gender equality and a champion of older women.

Jane Scott
Program Manager and Senior Curator

Kirsty Grant
Assistant Curator

Dr Elvis Richardson
Website Manager

Dianna Wells
Graphic design

Advisory Group

Martha Hickey
Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Melbourne and The Royal Women’s Hospital, Victoria, Australia

Karin Hammarberg
Jean Hailes Research Unit, School of Public Health and Preventive medicine, Monash University, Victoria, Australia

Rita Butera
Executive Director, Women’s Health Victoria

Amy Webster
Senior Policy and Health Promotion Officer, Women’s Health Victoria

Lynne Jordan
CEO Country Women’s Association

Jane Scott
Art Manager

Rose Hiscock
Director Science Museum