Arty teenager Ava Jolliffe fights illness to become Arts Centre's youngest ever exhibitor

Ava Jolliffe pictured with some of her work
Ava Jolliffe pictured with some of her work

A 13 year old artist who has overcome disability to create many new pictures is looking forward to having her work shown at Garstang Arts Centre.

For Ava Jolliffe it is a first step towards her ambition of producing children’s books.

The teenager from Broughton has a very rare degenerative condition Brown Vialetto Van Laere syndrome, also known as Riboflavin transporter deficiency.

Her mum Laura said: “Ava has been a prolific at drawing for many years. She started drawing as a form of expression after she became very poorly when she was three years old, losing her hearing, becoming certified blind and needing to rely on a wheelchair and her family to be able to do many things her peers took for granted.

“Drawing was one of the few things she could still do unaided and she finds such joy in creating new pieces.”

Ava, a pupil at Sir Tom Finney Community High School in Preston, now uses digital tools for her art work. Laura said: “This allows her to enlarge the pixilation to be able to see clearly what she is drawing, and she works on small areas of the picture at a time to create a whole work. Due to her poor visual acuity she love bright colours and strong designs which are very much her trademark.”

An Arts Centre spokeswoman said: “We are delighted to welcome Ava Joliffe as our next artist and at 13 years old, the youngest exhibitor at the Arts Centre.

From a very early age Ava showed an aptitude for drawing but at the age of three she was taken ill and quickly declined. Despite being disabled with multiple complexities, Ava’s art progressed in both style and medium to her preferred medium of digital art."

Until the age of three Ava developed normally and was able to walk, talk and see. At first it was thought she had a brain tumour and medics were baffled. It was only after whole genosequencing test in Munich, where the family were located due to dad Graham’s secondment there by his employer BAe, that a diagnosis was made . Laura said: ““It took three and a half years to get a diagnosis and although there is no cure, the degeneration can be slowed by a cocktail of medicines.They really did do everything they could for her."

She added: "We are very proud of Ava’s tenacity, she is an amazing young lady.”

Ava’s work is on show during Arts Centre exhibition opening hours (Tuesdays 10am -12.30pm and 2pm - 4pm, Thursdays 10am - 4pm and Saturdays 10am - 12.30pm) from February 11 to March 5. A small launch party will be attended by family and friends, including sister Libby, 15.