before I met this remarkable mother and daughter, I was already familiar with their story from an interview posted online. I learned that Ana’s biological mother had left her baby in a children’s home, where her real mother saw her by chance. This woman fell in love with Ana, cared for her, and supported her through a succession of difficult surgeries. Despite enormous bureaucratic hurdles, this determined woman succeeded in becoming Ana’s legal mother by adoption. I remembered how her circle of friends had mixed reactions to her decision to adopt a disabled child with complex health issues. I could tell how happy they were together.
I really looked forward to seeing them. We met in a beautiful Sololaki courtyard, where Ana, a huge animal lover, played with a sheepdog. I instantly recalled the online interview when her mum recounted another time Ana was playing with a dog, and some woman walked past saying, “Does she even know she is stroking a dog?”
But we didn’t talk about heartless, narrow-minded people. Instead, we enjoyed Ana posing for the camera, and laughed a lot as we talked about this talented and extrovert young girl. Her mum showed me a photo from her mobile phone, snapped at Ana’s personal exhibition. Here too she looked joyous, her face beaming with happiness. Her celebration of her triumph was clear for all to see.
It all began two years ago, when Ana’s occupational therapist developed an exercise to improve her hand sensitivity. Ana’s hand was dipped in paint and placed on a piece of paper, producing a colourful handprint. That’s when everything started, and she began to paint.
Ana’s very first work was a real painting. As a new artist she developed a particular technique because she didn’t like an all-white background. Her first step was to apply a coat of colour all over the paper. She learned patience, waiting for this first coat to dry before continuing with her painting. This is a practice she continues to this day. Even when she paints with acrylic and tempera paints on a stretched canvas, she prepares the background colour undercoat first, only painting on it once it has fully dried out.
There are times when she seldom paints, and others when she paints enthusiastically for days. She has been inspired by other artists whose work she has seen in books. Smiling, her mum shows me some of Ana’s work, “This is Miro’s influence, and here you can feel Basquiat,” she observes. I nod, smiling too, understanding that artistic influence is essential to the existence and creation of art.
After spending summers in the countryside, Ana’s paintings developed a wider, more colourful palette. When she is carried away in her painting, she knows no limits. Sometimes she puts very thick layers of paint on the canvas. At one stage she painted with a brush too, but now has returned to painting with her hands, much to her mum’s delight. She jokes that while painting with a brush Ana drifted to a more commercial style of art, but now this beautiful, little, paint covered girl creates her highly original art again. Sometimes she can move from painting the canvas to painting her own clothes or shoes. She uses lots of colours, but she usually runs out of blue and yellow first, because they are her favourites.
Photographer: Levan Kerkheulidze
Writer: Archil Kikodze
Project was produced within the framework of the Children Are Not Born with Prejudices project run by the Glada Hudik Theatre in Georgia with the support of the Swedish Institute.