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The Age of Creativity: Art, Memory, My Father, and Me by Emily Urquhart

The Age of Creativity: Art, Memory, My Father, and Me by Emily Urquhart

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It has long been thought that artistic output always 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 making large-scale sculptures, and was even innovating his style. Was he defying the odds, or was 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 Cezanne 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 do anything for the last time?

Moving and effortlessly educational, The Age of Creativity is a graceful, intimate blend of research on ageing and creativity, including on progressive senior-led organizations, such as the home for elderly theatre performers in Toronto where residents control their space and creative lives and the gallery in New York City that only represents artists over sixty; stories of creative seniors from a variety of backgrounds; and her experiences living and travelling with her father. Emily Urquhart overturns long-held biases about aging, reveals how creative work, both amateur and professional, sustains people in their third act of their lives, and tells a new story about the possibilities of elder-hood.

Emily Urquhart is a National Magazine Award-winning writer and has a PhD in folklore from Memorial University of Newfoundland. Her first book, Beyond the Pale: Folklore, Family and the Mystery of our Hidden Genes, was a Maclean’s bestseller, a finalist for the BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction and a 2015 Globe and Mail Best Book. Her freelance writing has appeared in Hakai MagazineReader’s Digest and The Walrus among other publications. After a decade split between St. John's, Newfoundland and Victoria, British Columbia, she recently moved to Kitchener, Ontario with her husband and their two children.