Yesterday evening Ian and I went to a Gala Evening view the artwork from his U3A group. The event was called "Artists of a certain age", but age was no barrier for this talented group. Apart from admiring the work it was an opportunity for "other halves" to be paraded.
Apparently the painters talk about their families and so when introductions were made it was fascinating to hear how the painter had been looking forward to meeting the other halves. I assume I wasn't found wanting for I have been invited, with others, to join the group in their visit to The Royal Academy and for a barbeque lunch later in the Summer.
It struck me that the group, like so many others, serves a far wider purpose than learning how to use acrylics, water colours etc. It is the camaraderie, the mutual support, the friendship that develops that make these classes so important, they give the opportunity to ask advice from perhaps another who has been widowed, to discuss the balance in a relationship that develop where perhaps one party is a lot older or younger than the other or in poorer health. Ian remarked that for some of those attending it has been a lifeline.
It is only recently that I have realised how an activities like this have a two fold, or indeed manifold purpose. Sometimes I go along to a knitting group, this started in a local yarn shop, presumably to boost trade. Knitters would browse the patterns, purchases would be made, discussions fostered a competitiveness with skills so encouraging the purchase of different needles or wool. Alongside this, help was given with difficult stitches, confidences and advice were exchanged and the experience of a wide age range of women was shared. Cake and recipes were included in this so we outgrew the space available and moved to the pub where I think the intimacy of the group was lost but there is still more than knitting.
It is like the arguments about the Freedom Pass. It is much more than free travel, it is a facility for us to go forth and help the economy, shopping, perhaps meeting friends for lunch or even travelling to where we work as a volunteer. Another benefit is no hassle for queuing up for tickets,or trying to find the right change on the bus. All this can deter, especially if the train is coming, there's a long queue at the ticket office or machine.
Another benefit is widening one's circle of acquaintances, Ian doesn't belong to our local U3A so it's another group of suburbanites, yet even then there are links. One painter's wife told me about her offspring's teaching post, I know the Head of that particular school, we once lived in the same road.
Just a couple of views from the gallery.
Another benefit was we went to an area of suburban London that was new to us. I like seeing different districts of my city.