Drawing on memories of grandma

SHARING ... illustrator Sara Gibbeson, left, shares her work with a visitor to her exhibition.
SHARING ... illustrator Sara Gibbeson, left, shares her work with a visitor to her exhibition.

A TALENTED illustrator from South Tyneside has drawn on her childhood memories to create a new book.

Sara Gibbeson’s book, containing precious childhood memories of time spent with her grandmother before dementia took its toll, is now on display as part of an annual design exhibition.

Sunderland University graduate Sara has created a collection of stories and illustrations of the happy times growing up before the days her grandmother, Gwen Gibbeson, could not even remember her name.

Sara, 38, a mother of two daughters from Lawe Top, South Shields, enrolled on a two-year part-time Masters course in illustration and design, and has made the book called Dusters, as part of her final piece of coursework, which she hopes people of all ages can relate to.

The book is on display as part of the MA Design degree show, in the university’s Design Centre Gallery at the City Campus, Sunderland, until Friday, October 5. Sara says the book is entitled Dusters, because spending time with her grandmother, helping her with housework and laughing, are some of her happiest memories.

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

She added: “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 effect on somebody else as well.” Earlier this year, Sara was highly commended for the Macmillan Prize for Children’s Books and had her work showcased at the Foyles Gallery, a legendary award-winning independent bookstore in London.

Before beginning her university course she had spent her working life in adult education, using her art and design skills to help people with learning difficulties.

She has also worked for the Newcastle United charity, working with schoolchildren across the region.

However, she said she knew the time was right for her to study illustration and design at Sunderland.

She said: “I have always been interested and tried to work around my skills, but the course has been fantastic.

“It has boosted my confidence and given me the belief to approach publishers in future without fearing a negative response.

“The course has certainly improved my skills, and I’ve learned so much. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the university and don’t regret it one bit.

“I would encourage anyone to do it and follow their dream – it is never too late to learn.”

For more information, visit, http://saragibbesonillustration.blogspot.co.uk

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