Harris Open winner celebrates her first solo exhibition in Preston

Posted on - 26th June, 2021 - 12:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Arts, City Centre, People, Preston City Centre, Proud Preston, Things to Do in and around Preston, What's On in Preston
A self portrait by Ava Jolliffe.

A young artist is celebrating her first solo exhibition in the city. Ava Jolliffe’s vibrant, digital artwork has just gone on display at The Larder in central Preston. The exhibition follows on from her success at this year’s Harris Open, where she won the Public Vote.


“It’s so nice to see my artwork displayed in such a great community location in Preston,” said Ava. “Lockdown had prevented me from doing many of the collaborations I had planned after my last exhibition, which I found very frustrating. So to see such a big collection of my pieces together in my home city is very exciting.”

Ava’s eye catching artwork on display in The Larder

Ava has been drawing ever since she can remember. However, when she was three, she became very ill, profoundly deaf, and she also lost her speech, so art became her communication tool. She used it to express herself, she would draw, for hours each day – often to amuse herself but also to give herself a voice and to show her emotions.

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“I used to use pen and paper, I could draw so many images in a day – page after page of the things I loved. At a young age, it would be horses, princesses, cakes the usual things a young girl would like,” said Ava. “But as I have matured, so has my style and the tools I use. I now use a digital medium working on an iPad Pro, this allows me to make corrections and to work in high pixilation. I am certified blind, so have exceptionally limited vision – using an digital medium help me work on the detail but in massive scale.

“Lots of artists are now exploring a digital medium as a way to work, as it offers such flexibility. For me it’s a physical choice, it’s much easier to use due to the contracture in my hands, and for my vision loss. But it also allows me to be able to transfer the imagery easily to canvas, to produce animations or as I am doing at the moment illustrating my first children’s book.”

Members of the public viewing Ava’s artwork in the window of The Larder

This isn’t the first time Ava’s artwork has been on display. Ava was the youngest artist to have exhibited at the Garstang Arts Centre and earlier this year she exhibited her work at the Harris Open exhibition, where she won the Public Vote.

Read more: Turner Prize winner Lubaina Himid opens Preston university’s virtual exhibition

“It was simply awesome to find out I had won,” said Ava. “After a very tough year of lockdown isolation and missing out on time with family, friends or being able to show my art or work with community collaborations – it was the most incredibly wonderful moment to be told I had won, everyone was just so happy for me. The Harris has been one of my favourite places since I can remember, it the most beautiful institution and we are so lucky to have it here in Preston.”

One of the pieces of Ava Jolliffe’s artwork on display in The Larder. ©avajolliffedigitalartist

Ava’s images depict feisty looking women in vivid colours, however she draws inspiration from many sources.

“I am inspired by strong women, equality, my friends and family and also the news,” said Ava. “My limited vision and hearing means my environmental access to many things is severely restricted  But each day my parents take time out to use BSL to sign the news to me, and I have some amazing interpreters who work with me to allow access to wider topics and life around me.

“My art has grown as I have matured, my art looks so different to even where it did a year ago – I find this exciting. I know I would like to do more community collaborations and improve access to the arts for disabled artists. I am also illustrating my first children’s book, so to see that published would be so brilliant. Preston has lost so many businesses on its high street as have many cities and towns, it feels sad. I would love to inject some art and colour into those spaces or windows.

Ava Jolliffe
Artist Ava Jolliffe is currently illustrating her first children’s book

“I am a born and bred Prestonian. I love Preston and it’s people, we are such a chatty and friendly bunch. And I feel very lucky the people of Preston support me and my art. Thank you to everyone who has helped me on my artistic journey.”

Victoria Dyer, organiser of Art at The Larder, said: “The Larder is very happy to be showcasing this young artistic talent. These fabulous images are really making our walls pop with their Warhol meets Manga vibe. We wish Ava every success in her future endeavours.”

Ava Jolliffe’s artwork is on display at The Larder in Lancaster Road until Friday 13 August 2021.

You can follow Ava’s artistic journey on Facebook and Instagram @avajolliffedigitalartist.

Read more: See the latest Preston news and headlines

Will you be going to view Ava’ exhibition at The Larder? Let us know in the comments.

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