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My autobiography

 РУС

 

01.08.1990, Kiev

Due to an injury (asphyxia, DTSP) at birth, from the first minutes of my life I had to fight to survive and, of course, I would have been defeated in this fight if my parents had not supported me. My memories about childhood are not limited just to our apartment, which was full of both usual and special toys designed to develop fine motor skills of my hands.  Mom invented a way by which I could make figurines from sand in the sandbox. She put me in running shoes and, in this position, I felt myself as if in a soft, comfortable armchair. At the playground, I was playing with my younger sister and local kids of our age. I’m sure that the other children did not have permission to move peas or beans from one bucket to another, especially if the whole room was strewn with beans!!! But my parents, following the advice of speech therapists, were encouraging me to do it every day!!! And all for the sake of the development of my fine motor skills!

Apart from such beautiful moments of my childhood, which sometimes cause a smile, there are such images as if from a horror movie. I’m talking about the endless wandering from hospital to hospital, healers, charlatans. It is terrible even to remember where my parents were taking me  and what was done to me, with the only aim being my recovery: I remember manipulation, plastering, injections, massages, physical therapies, electric treatments, drugs and all manner of other procedures. My mother and I spent lots of months in the sanatoriums, hospitals and clinics.

I paint my pictures lying downimg_1611_1

 

Despite having cerebral palsy, with obvious symptoms of spasticity and hyperkinesis in the hands, I was determined to create my paintings.

 

It started in childhood and I recall pre-school age (4 years), when my father started to prepare me for school. We learned the alphabet. I could read by syllables. Also, I learned to count, at the beginning up to five, then ten and later to one hundred. But to write was very difficult, as my disabled clenched fist holding a pencil or pen broke it in two and the paper was torn, because of the hard-pressing. No device could help me, but I was accepted to school and received secondary education at home. The teacher tried to help me write lower case letters by putting my hand into her hand, the same thing we had been doing with my mother as homework. I do not remember exactly what year it was when the social service of my native Kharkiv region opened courses of drawing, modelling, macramé and making soft toys, for children and young people with functional limitations, which I could visit twice each week. From the above experience, I discovered that drawing and sculpting were the best activities for me. The principle was the same as before, with my hand being guided by my drawing teacher, Tynkovan Larisa Pavlovna, a woman who was sent by God to this earth. Everything I can do in the field of pattern is to her credit, due to her hard work and support! But sooner or later everything good has to come to and end and, three years later, she had to resign from her job because of family reasons.

 

After that I had to everything by myself, without teachers, supported by my family. Gradually I adapted to drawing and writing laying down. I discovered that, in a certain position, glomerulus spasticity becomes less restricting, as my wrists becomes more mobile. Also, I found a solution to overcome the hyperkinesis. At first, of course, my efforts were something like kalyaki-Malaki, but with time, practice and patience, you can now see the result. I did not consider myself a great artist. I say frankly that my works are not perfect, from a professional point of view. The figure turned inside out, the construction is wrong. I see these imperfections. But please know that I have a completely different perspective when I’m working laying on the side and this is my unique feature.

 

In order for the picture to not look unusual to the viewer, later my parents began to lay a larger cushion under my head, so that I had a different perspective when creating the work. Of course, my back is suffering, but now the picture is more natural!

 

It is not important for me that I have for each new work to overcome a terrible pain and worsen scoliosis — I am just so very pleased that I paint the picture, even if laying down whilst doing so!

 

I never know how much time it will take to create one picture. Sometimes my work may be finished after a week and sometimes I am working on it for about a year — it all depends on the weather, which really affects my health and internal state. Sometimes I postpone one unfinished painting and start working on another, then come back to the first one. It happens because I get bored, or need to write something quickly for a gift. It also happens because I do not like the results of my work and I wish to start again. Or maybe all goes well and then, on the final step, my arm could move sharply (due to the hyperkinesis) and the picture will be spoiled.

 

I do not have occasional works; each painting is born as a result of some life experiences, emotions and events.

 

In the annual regional festival, ‘Believe in Yourself’, my works were often chosen for the second stage, at the city level. 2010 became a special year for me. This year gave me a pleasant feeling, when one of my favourite paintings was bought for 900 hryvnia. The picture of the horse so amazed the owner of the private salon, that the woman literally begged me to sell the canvas. Then, in the final stage of the competition, although I did not manage to take the first prize, one of the insurance companies decided to reward the best three entries, in their opinion, with a small fee. My work was one of the three selected! In August 2011 my painting, ‘Waterfall’, was entered for the city competition of creative works to mark Independence Day for my country, Ukraine. The picture did not win a prize, but it very much pleased me that, during the competition, guests and journalists come back again and again to view my picture, just to take another look at it! During a talk about the competition, the press and TV news mentioned my work with admiration. In addition to the distribution of prizes, the jury of the competition earmarked works of three members, including my picture, ‘Waterfall’. This painting, as well as another picture, ‘Twilight’, was entered in the 2nd stage of the competition, Crystal Palette 2011. Also, an exhibition of my work was hosted at St. Olgienskoy Church on 4th December2011. Inthe same year, I participated in an exhibition dedicated to the seventieth anniversary of Darnitsa, Ukraine, ‘We are your children’. Participation in the competition, Crystal Palette 2012, gave me the opportunity to present my paintings, ’Horse on the Rearing’, ‘Bars’, ‘Rushing at a Gallop’ and ‘Lifeless’ in an exhibition at the art centre, Ya.Gretera. At the end of the exhibition, ‘Rushing at a Gallop’ and ‘Lifeless’ were awarded the diploma of participant of the second competition of young artists for Crystal Palette2012. In2013, I participated in such competitions as the fourth city festival of family art for Ukraine, dedicated to the Independence Day of Ukraine, Kiev City contest of Children and Youth with Special Needs ‘Autumn Waterfall’ (where I took second place) and I won in the Darnytskyi district festival, Believe in Yourself’.

img_0675

Now my works are sold not only inUkrainebut also far beyond its borders, so that I can once a year undergo rehabilitation at the clinic of Kozijavkin. After such treatment it’s easier for me to breathe, swallow, talk and move, my posture becomes straighter and the movement of my legs is easier.

 

when_i_em_happy_68Inspiration

As everyone knows, every creative person must constantly be looking for inspiration! For some the muse is a soul mate, others will take inspiration by leaving the city and drawing strength for creativity from nature. Most of my life is spent cooped up at home, especially during the winter. My circle of live communication is mainly centred on my family. Any conscious person cannot stop thinking about the future, but I am greatly afraid and oppressed by my thoughts about the future. Likemany people, I am also afraid of loneliness. All this often leads to depression and profound creative crisis. In such moments some of my works have suffered, because I poured out upon them all my pain — I tore them to shreds and destroyed them.

Perhaps, such moments are heavier for my parents who see their daughter is suffering and cannot help as much as they would like. But sometimes it is possible to be distracted from sad thoughts and music helps me. Basically, I enjoy French and Italian classics and often I listen to local Ukrainian singers, including my idol, Vitaly Kozlovsky. He is, for me, a source of inspiration and energy! Only my parents know how impatiently I am waiting for his concerts and meetings of the fan club! After all, this man really fills the soul with joy!

Travelsimg_1824

Since 2005 my mother and I began travelling through Ukraine. Thanks to organizations and sponsors, without whom we would not have managed, I saw the beautiful corners of our country. I’ve been in cities like Kanev, White Church (Park Alexandria), Pereyaslav-Khmelnitsky, Lviv (Olesky Castle), Kamenetz-Podolsk, Khotyn, Lutsk, Uman (Sophia Park), Chernihiv, Chegiryn, Zaporozhye (Island Khortytsya), Dnepropetrovsk, Pochaev, Odessa (Vilkovo, the Ukrainian Venice). Inevitably, these travels have an impact on my perception of the world, especially as an artist.

when_i_em_happy_11Hippotherapy

Our friends advised us to try hippotherapy when I was eight. At the time for me it was so surprising that adults called sitting astride a horse a treatment!!! After all, according to my prevailing notions, treatment should bring great pain, but with hippotherapy there was no such pain. Or perhaps I just did not notice??? The horse was for me much more than a trainer! This is a noble, strong, beautiful and  willing animal. Each horse has its own character; they may be in a different mood, as a person. I have loved them to madness!!! Sitting astride, I was united with her! This is exactly what was missing for my soul — freedom, ease! These experiences gave me a new impetus to creativity! In addition to the spiritual bliss of communicating with these warm, soft animals, with huge and kind eyes, hippotherapy brought me physical improvements, one benefit being that I could sit in an ordinary chair. Before that, I could just be placed in a special wheelchair, which fixed my back. Also, following hippotherapy, I could make up to 10 steps by myself and, with the support of one hand, I walked quite big distances. But better than all this, what happened to me when one instructor, as a reward for a well executed exercise, gave me the reins of the horse was amazing!!! I controlled this giant!!!!! At that moment I understood that I wanted to be a rider.

From then on, I dreamed almost every night how I overcame the obstacles on my own riding horse! From that time, I tried to get on the lessons only with those trainers who were prepared to provide a good exercise and give an opportunity for me to be a rider! These lessons were held in the centre run by Elena Vadimovna Petrusevich. Unfortunately, when I was about 13, the centre was hit by financial problems and my hippotherapy came to an abrupt end, because after the crisis, Elena Vadimovna was obliged to sharply reduce the number of patients. My family repeatedly tried to continue my lessons, including resorting to private services, but it was short-lived as my family does not have the resources required.

020_1On the computer I’m working with the joystick, and my nose. 

The teaching of information technology in high school, including how to use a computer, radically changed my life!!! Again there were problems to overcome as my fingers could not be controlled because my continuing disabilities with hyperkinesis and spasticity did not allow me to push the right keys. So I said: ‘Well, okay, but I’m still going to work on the computer!’ Many times I’ve seen on television reports about people without hands, who draw beautiful paintings with their feet or hold the brush in their mouth. This prompted me to realise that I could use my nose for a new purpose!

I tried and it happened!

Everything became much easier when Kirillov Vladimir Sergeyevich, my science teacher, suggested I use a game joystick instead of a mouse and the keyboard control. I got acquainted with programs such as: Word, Excel, Flahs, Photoshop and others. Most of all, I was fascinated by Photoshop. Exploration of the internet became a real revolution in my life! I had finally found an opportunity to communicate and to meet new people, even if only in the virtual world. This communication, with others beyond my family and immediate friends, is what had been lacking in my life! In addition, I can find any information which is interesting for me. I believe the internet can greatly facilitate education for everyone, not just those in situations similar to mine.

 

I’m working on a laptop, twisting like a ballimg_1460_1

The appearance in my life of a laptop eased the burden on my back. I work with it almost exactly like paint, laying on my side, twisting like a ball while holding a leg and a pencil in my hand. I use the caps of the pencil to click on the required key and sometimes I use my fingers to do this work.

 

College of Theatre and Cinema

It seemed that time passed very slowly; now I understand it raced by in an instant.

In 2009 I graduated from high school and the prospect of sitting at home in the same four walls every day really did not appeal to me. There was the question of my future profession and I wanted to dedicate my life to veterinary medicine. However, even though it hurt me to admit it, there are few vets in wheelchairs and I recognised that the road to university was closed to me.

I was already on the verge of despair, when I received a telephone call from a representative of the Centre for Social and Psychological Rehabilitation, whose aim is to assist children and young people with functional limitations. I was informed that the College of Theatre and Cinema was assembling a group of students with special abilities and that I have a chance to join this group. The interview was passed with excellent results and they accepted me!

Those first months of discovering the wonderful world of student life was so exciting for me and an absolutely new experience. In time, I started to feel that I didn’t have to prove to teachers and classmates that I was worth something. In the beginning, when we met with other students in the corridors of the college, they greeted only my mother, but after a few months they started to speak to me with a greeting: ‘Hello Tanya!’. That moment was for me the best reward!

Of course, I must pay tribute to my mother. Three times a week she would, in any weather, take me to the third floor of the university. But the regular journey was certainly not the end of her mission. Due to the fact that when I am sitting I cannot write, she had to write in every lecture for me.

Sometimes I have allowed myself to imagine that I am sitting at lectures at theVeterinaryUniversity. Somewhere in my heart I cannot stop hoping that someone like Dr. House (the fictitious television character) will think how I can be healed and I will have an opportunity not only to communicate with my classmates without any restrictions, but also to celebrate with them during the holidays, have fun and enjoy life!!!

 

I graduated from college in 2012. Unfortunately, I cannot work on my specialty — as an artist — because of the state of my health, but I continue to do what I can.

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