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Student captures a centenarian’s life

EACH year, Wesley Mission Brisbane welcomes a group of talented students from Griffith University to take part in a unique experience.

The Griffith University/ Wesley Mission Brisbane (WMB) photographic competition encourages photo journalism students to tell the stories of staff , volunteers and the people WMB support and present a portfolio of photographs from their time
with the organisation.

The year 2011 was the seventh year in which WMB and Griffith University have held the photographic competition, culminating in an exhibition to display the students’ work.

Photographer, musician, student and part-time hair stylist Dylan Evans was awarded first prize for the 2011 competition for his project, “Timeline of a Centenarian”.

Through his work Mr Evans photographed the life of retired Uniting Church minister Rev Ellis Bramley, a resident at one of WMB’s independent living facilities.

Mr Bramley served as a minister for over 70 years and is a valued member of the community, one year receiving over 450 Christmas cards.

Mr Evans said a conversation with Mr Bramley inspired his project.

“We sparked up a conversation and just started chatting, and he showed me some of his things, like his old army uniform and his letter from the Queen.

“Seeing his possessions gave me the idea to do a portrait of 100 years to show people what a full life looks like visually.”

Lenore Eggins, manager at Wesley Mission Brisbane’s Day Respite Centre, said that people often undervalue what older
people have to offer.

“One of the issues I see is that we don’t ask older people to tell us about themselves or their opinions; we forget that their ideas and values are just as important as our own and hold a wealth of experience, wisdom and insight,” she said.

Mr Evans said he and Mr Bramley connected because of Mr Bramley’s great story-telling skills.

“One of the most interesting things in his possession was his manual hair clippers,” said Mr Evans.

“I loved that they still had hair in them, as if they were frozen in time.

We also found an old record player that I think Ellis had forgotten he even had. It’s amazing what people collect over a lifetime.”

David Lloyd, Deputy Director of Learning and Teaching at Griffith University’s College of Art, has high praise for the competition and partnership with Wesley Mission Brisbane.

“It’s an opportunity for students to engage meaningfully with their community, and learn about community issues in a
personal way,” he said.

See more of Mr Evans’photographic work at www.dylanevans.com.au