Poignant photographs by Sara Lopes that document Portugal's ageing population

© Sara Lopes. All images courtesy of the artist and Phoebe Ruffels of Damson Communications. Via submission

Photographer Sara Lopes was inspired by her grandparents for this poignant series that documents the ageing population of Portugal.

According to the Portuguese National Institute of Statistics, one in five was aged 65 or older in 2016. It's predicted that in 50 years, Portugal will lose 23% of the population and that in 2070, 44% of the eight million inhabitants will be over 80 years old.

This series of portraits shows some of the elderly of São João de Rei in their rooms, where they spend more time as they grow older. The photographs also give us a glimpse of Portuguese culture, such as the importance of religion and family.

"It started at my grandmother's house," says Lopes of the series. "While she was waiting for me to set up the camera, we talked about how there are few children in the village nowadays. São João de Rei, located 13 km from Braga, has been her home since she was born. However, unlike her, a lot of people of working age left the parish in search of better opportunities. This is a small example that speaks of a bigger issue: the ageing of the Portuguese population."

Sara Lopes is one of 30 finalists in this year's VIA Arts Prize, an annual award in London that seeks to "deepen cultural awareness of Latin American, Spanish and Portuguese arts and cultures in the UK". An exhibition of work from this year's competition is on view at the Embassy of Brazil in London until Wednesday 11 December.

© Sara Lopes

© Sara Lopes

© Sara Lopes

© Sara Lopes

© Sara Lopes

© Sara Lopes

© Sara Lopes

© Sara Lopes