Sean O'Keeffe filmed people greeting each other

Blackheath resident Sean O'Keeffe has just completed a residency with Liverpool Council as part of the Urban Screens Initiative, a Create NSW supported commission.

The result is a video artwork produced in collaboration with and about senior people in the community.

O'Keeffe spent three months attending as many groups and community support events for seniors as he can. He met with, talked to and filmed a widely diverse range of different individuals and groups.

"When I visited the many groups I have worked with so far, we discussed ways in which we might represent senior people in the Liverpool community," he said.

"We talked a lot about visibility and invisibility of seniors in the community. Did seniors feel visible?"

What emerged from the discussions was the real importance of belonging to groups, like active seniors groups or knitting groups or religious organisations or even just dropping in to the local park or library to have a chat. Groups provided support to its members and often supported the wider community through volunteering and charity work.

Stills from Sean O'Keeffe's video about the senior people of Liverpool.

Stills from Sean O'Keeffe's video about the senior people of Liverpool.

"Seniors who belonged to groups made it clear how important it was and how strong the bonds between members are, even if they don't always get along," said O'Keeffe. "A group gets you out of the house and gives meaning and support for life and others."

The ritual of the greeting, either as people came to groups, or as they recognised other group members in the street or at social functions became a focus of O'Keeffe's video artwork.

"In the end it was the simplest idea that proved most effective. The participants simply greeted each other as they normally would... They say so much about the power of the bonds people have formed and the lifelong friendships that have been made."

O'Keeffe's work was recently shown on a large digital screen in the downtown area of the Liverpool CBD.