‘Art provides an escape from my disability’

‘Art provides an escape from my disability’ name

Yvonne Meek loves her life at the University of Cumbria. Graduating last week with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art, she has already returned to study for her MA in Contemporary Fine Art.

Yvonne, 24, was motivated to continue her studies after completing her BA despite facing a number of health challenges. Yvonne is delighted to graduate and feels especially proud of her achievement. Yvonne’s determination has also been recognised by programme leader Jane Topping and she has been awarded a Personal Achievement Prize.

She explains: “I have cerebral palsy and epilepsy. My epilepsy is triggered by stressful situations which has made completing my degree especially challenging.

“I know that everyone finds the assessments stressful but for me it was added pressure, knowing that it might trigger a seizure at any time.”

The support she has received from her course lecturers and art technicians has been invaluable and Yvonne says she couldn’t have completed her degree without it.

She says: “When I needed to reschedule assessments or extend my deadlines, they were great. Sometimes, if I could feel the warning signs that a seizure might be coming, I would just have to go home.

“There were times when I thought about quitting, but I kept going and I’m really proud of myself.”

Yvonne chose to study at the University of Cumbria after attending an open day, accompanied by her parents. She was impressed with the facilities on offer and the amount of support available. Yvonne also liked the fact that she would be able to try out different types of art such as sculpture and graphics.

“I wasn’t limited to just doing fine art. I enjoy using sculpture and videography to create installations. I have been given freedom to develop my work and try different things before specialising,” she says.

Yvonne says the highlight of her BA course has been taking part in the summer degree show exhibition. She also says she has enjoyed living away from home and gaining her independence. Since she joined the university she has lived in a shared house and has made some great friends.

She explains: “I am originally from Edinburgh and when I started my course it was the first time I’ve lived away from home. Learning to cook and look after myself was also a challenge, but it was something I really wanted to do.

“I moved into a great house so that made it easier. I’ve got a really good circle of friends.”

Knowing that she wanted to study art from a young age, Yvonne said that she has always loved the fact that art allows her to escape from her disability. When she completes her MA she would like to go into curating.

She finished by saying: “I’m finding my MA challenging but really rewarding. I’m pushing myself further than I thought possible and believing in myself more. I’d like to go into curating exhibitions when I’ve finished, or do any job in the art industry.

“I’ve really enjoyed the day, and I was so proud to be given an award because it means that other people have recognised my achievements. I was a bit nervous about graduating but once I got my gown on it felt more real and I was just excited.”