Grandma inspires graduate’s work

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MEMORIES of a Sunderland University graduate’s grandma have inspired a new display at its city campus.

Sara Gibbeson, 38, produced a book of illustrations and stories called Dusters as part of the university’s Masters Design Degree show at the Design Centre Gallery.

The final piece of coursework for her degree, it was inspired by the memory of her late grandmother, Gwen Gibbeson, who spent the final years of her life battling dementia.

At its worst, Gwen was unable even to remember her granddaughter’s name.

Sara says she called the book Dusters because the times spent helping her grandma with the housework, laughing all the while, are among the happiest memories she has of their relationship.

She added: “In the later years of my grandma’s life, I saw her memory disappear to the point where she had no memory of who I was.

“After she died, I had this massive urge to do something about the wonderful memories she gave me from when I was a child and capture it and share it with my children.

“It was a very personal thing, and I wanted to see if I could light it up and share it with a new audience.

“I was very honest with myself and felt that if I got everything down on the page, they’d have a profound meaning to me, but it could also have the same affect on somebody else as well.”

The show is not the first time illustrator Sara’s work has met with a warm reception and critical acclaim.

Earlier this year she was highly commended for the Macmillan Prize for Children’s Books.

Her work has also been displayed at Foyles Gallery, the famous independent book store in London.

Sara said: “I have always been interested and tried to work around my skills but the University of Sunderland course has been fantastic. It has boosted my confidence and given me the belief to approach publishers in future without fearing a negative response.”

Twitter: @sunechomark