Art connects age and youth - Centenarian Portrait by Teenagers project

Fairfield Aged Care Home 

 Promotional poster for the exhibition, in which the Centenarian Portrait Project by Teenagers was featured.


Maria Sabag, resident at Fairfield Aged Care Home since December 2012, was recently featured in The Centenarian Portrait Project by Teenagers exhibition, entitled, 100; a celebration of Sydney’s oldest residents. The exhibition displayed 100 portraits of 100 year old residents from across Sydney, and were created by skilled young artists.

Maria was painted by artist Vivian Nguyen onto an acrylic on canvas for display. Vivian wrote the following text about Maria on the thoughts and feeling that went into creating the gorgeous artwork for the exhibition.

Warm-honey tones and fluffy hair are what springs to mind, when I think of Maria Sabag, a sweet lady, with a happy and loveable aura. Born on 2nd June 1917 in the city of Cochabamba, Bolivia (where she was a shop owner), Maria had 5 children. She moved to Australia in 1973 at the age of 56. Most of her time here was spent living at Bondi Beach and South Coogee. Maria also worked at the Hilton Hotel.

Upon our first meeting, Maria was so friendly; she kept talking to me in Spanish. I held her hand as I listened. Without a mutual language, I sat there, clueless, aware of her warm and smooth touch. Maria always looked to where I was, which made it hard to believe that her eyesight is limited. I’ve tried to capture Maria´s calmness, but not to override the tight expression sometimes found in her furrowed brows. I tried to highlight the depth and focus of her eyes because she’s so curious and attentive when she wants to be.

Maria is easy to be around, she wears a wide-lipped smile and her favourite colours are red and pink. Her daughter, Georgette, is so energetic and is very close to her mum. The butterfly necklace, an accessory Maria’s never seen without, represents the closeness of their relationship. At my second meeting with Maria, she was eating honey bon-bon (a favourite Spanish treat). I was amused by how frequently she licked her fingers. She even drank coffee after, which I found impressive! She was relaxed and happy, so content with chewing. She even offered me some. It was amazing that in the most joyous state I’ve seen her in, she still stopped to consider me. It thrilled me that she knew of my presence. She also had less of a fold between her brows. She looked reflective but peaceful.


The exhibition ran in The Studio, Rosebery from Saturday 29 September to Friday 12 October 2018 and saw the centenarians, all from Sydney, sit for local artists aged between 14 and 19. From storytelling, reminiscing, joy and laughter, came the unique portraits, a gift – and friendships to treasure between the generations.

Every picture tells a story and Maria and her daughter Georgette Sabag, who shares a room with her mother at Fairfield Aged Care home, certainly enjoyed their part in this wonderful exhibition. Maria and Georgette (along with some other residents of Fairfield) enjoyed their outing to view the exhibition at the very ‘centenarian friendly’ gallery space.



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