By Laura and Ava Jolliffe
Ava Jolliffe is a talented 14 year old deaf/blind digital artist from the North West of England. Ava works to overcome challenges everyday to create beautiful digital portraits, and through her passion shows herself to be a positive role model and a strong advocate for her disabled peers. This inspiring post delves into the story of an exceptional teenager who truly demonstrates that art is the most powerful and accessible language of them all.
Ava wasn’t born with her disabilities, when she was 3 years old she became very ill with a rare neurological condition. This illness has severely affected her vision and also left her profoundly deaf. Ava however has continually adapted to the challenges her complexities have presented her with, and although she gets very frustrated by her physical limitations she continually pushes herself to achieve and to advocate for her disabled peers.
Ava is very much inspired by strong individuals and their resolve to overcome the obstacles put in their way. She believes passionately in equality and that disability should not be seen as a reason to discriminate. She is an artist first, and a person with disabilities second. She wants to advocate for her deaf/blind peers, and show that whilst she has considerable complexities that she can be successful in her chosen career, and encourage others to follow their dreams.
To produce her art, Ava uses a digital medium. She works on a platform called FrameCast, she has tried other apps such as Procreate – but finds FrameCast more user friendly for her disabilities. Using an IPAD pro, allows Ava to work in high pixilation and to zoom in to work in smaller detail. Ava is certified blind and her vision field is extremely limited with multiple optical issues and the IPad is a larger tablet and very flexible to use.
Ava loves to show her work, but it is often exhausting and painful for her to produce her art – so she sees the sharing of it with others as the reward for her labour. By sharing her art as a disabled artist, she knows this opens often difficult dialogue about disabilities, and makes the viewer reassess their possible expectations and perception of deaf/blind artist. Without this catalyst it may not happen – so this is much more than just a picture she is producing, it is also an opportunity for education and reevaluation by those engaging with her art.
Ava has always been a very determined young women, she is quite formidable. She is very determined to be a positive role model and a strong advocate for her disabled peers. She loves art, it has been the absolute constant throughout her life, even thorough the most truly dark periods of illness. She wants to continue to build her career, and to draw wider audiences, to open conversations, to work collaboratively with others and large business to showcase her talent and her unique style.
She has been working recently on animation, a children’s book and has a couple of exciting opportunities have presented themselves to her which she has been exploring. But her first love and always will be is to produce accessible Art for all people to enjoy, she really is quite the digiteen artist.
Ava and her art are inextricably entwined, you cannot have one without the other. Like Blackpool rock, if you cut her in half she will have the word Art running all the way through the centre of her. No day goes by without her drawing, she is passionately an artist, it’s her true love.