Figure reaching forward through thin curtains with writing behind

Kainaat's story

The story may contain themes of a sensitive nature. See our guidance on viewing the exhibition.

Kainaat had a difficult childhood growing up in India, leading to CPTSD and bouts of depression, as she said:

You go through these phases where you feel really hopeless and so for me, the main things I struggle with are loneliness, loss of connection.

Part of Kainaat’s CPTSD related to her not feeling as if she fitted in physically, particularly during her childhood, “Snide comments they sort of just creep under your skin”. A sense of feeling “Like I'm not aesthetic to look at, not pleasing to look at”.

She has suffered with body dysmorphia leading to disordered eating and  bad sleeping patterns.

A big part of her recovery has been learning to find a strength in inside herself and “learning to ground myself and gaining strength from myself”. But a side effect of this has been hyper-independence:

I came to rely overly on myself for my emotional needs and for my physical needs, and a lot of the work I've had to do has been to learn to rely on other people to invite other people in. There's that fight you know, you want other people to get to know you. But then you're so used to them not doing it that you're scared of actually trying to make that effort.

This feeling of disconnection is at the heart of the painting. Andy was drawn to one of the metaphors Kainaat used, describing her experience as being surrounded by translucent glass:

I feel like I tried to show myself to other people, but they don't really see it. You know, maybe the glass is too dirty. Maybe it's not transparent enough, but my voice doesn't go through. They don't really see what's happening inside. You interact with people and they see you and they interact back with you, but they don't actually see you.

Kainaat’s tattoos are important to her, not just as art, but as a way of giving her ownership over her body:

it's made me really value my skin because my skin is the canvas.

Andy wanted to convey the idea of KAINAAT reaching out, parting the opaque barrier, seeking connection. Showing her as a whole human being with cracks and flaws, someone who needs help and support and comfort.

The graffiti behind her reads 'Society Jaaye Bhaad Mein':

It means to hell with society. I think it's a good reflection of my life philosophy - people around me will always have comments on what I do, what I look like, what I wear, what I eat, what I like and dislike, so might as well just do whatever I want, and have a good time doing it.

In response to the painting Kainaat said:

It’s beautiful!! I really love it! The curtain reminds me of these shops back at home which would have some sections segregated with a sheer curtain. It would either be for special products or just an area not meant for customers (the smaller shops would often be family businesses and the elderly members might sit in these areas). Each time I would get this sense of these areas being cut off from the world. A very vague sense of mystery and curiosity but also of prohibition. Like I'm interested what's there, but I'm not allowed there, so my interest fades. And I think that might be what people around me feel, since I know I tend to end up not letting people in. 

And I feel like sitting inside that area might feel like this - you're a part of the world, the shop, but segregated and separated and people look at you and you look at them but they don't really pay much attention.



Click or tap to see another painting.


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