A tapestry of pictures and stories

Phyllis Glasser with her page from the book. Photo: Nadine Saacks Photography.

PHOTOGRAPHER Nadine Saacks is a familiar face around the Sydney community as she captures weddings and social events from behind the camera.

Last week, it was her turn to share the spotlight as Montefiore Randwick held a launch in honour of her book The Tapestry of Life, which captures portraits and words of wisdom from more than 50 residents.

“I grew up always living with my grandparents,” the long-time friend and supporter of Montefiore told The AJN.
“There’s always been three generations in my home so I’ve always had a lot of respect and time for older people and feel like I learn so much from them.”

While working on the book, Saacks spent time with each resident listening to their life stories.

“I spent time with each resident in their room speaking to them, hearing where they were born, when they came to Australia, where they were during the war,” she explained.

The residents showed her prized possessions including musical instruments, photographs and treasured letters from loved ones.

“I wanted to photograph the residents in their rooms with something meaningful and special to them,” she said.
“A lot of them were pictures of someone who had passed away, their parents, grandparents, or pictures of their wedding day.”

She said she gained “so much knowledge and such wisdom” from spending time with the residents. “There’s amazing stories and encouragement. I learned so much from all of them,” she said.

“I got so much out of it and I learned so much from them and they had so much wisdom, they became all like part of my family, like extended grandparents.”

With many of the book’s subjects having passed away before its release, she said she especially treasured the moments spent with those residents who had since passed on.

At the launch, residents and their families were invited to view their portraits and quotes displayed in the foyer at Montefiore.

“To see their children and grandchildren come to the exhibition and to be so grateful to have this memory [was amazing],” Saacks said.

Her favourite quote in the book comes from Joyce Edelman, who said, “Be positive and look at the good side of life not the bad. Two men look through bars – one sees mud, and the other sees stars.”

Saacks is already spending time with residents at Montefiore Woollahra working on the next volume, with Hunters Hill to follow.

“It’s a legacy that remains,” she said.

GARETH NARUNSKY