Hannah Johnston 5Students from Cleveland College of Art & Design (CCAD) celebrated their academic success as the third graduation ceremony got underway at the Christ Church in Hartlepool.

134 students received their certificates in degrees ranging from Illustration for Commercial Application, Creative Film and Moving Image and Textile Surface Design to Costume Interpretation with Design, Production Design for Stage and Screen and Fashion.

With proud families and friends watching on, the students were recognised for their hard work and academic achievement during their studies in a ceremony attended by Sir Peter Bazalgette, Chair of the Arts Council England and Prof Jane Rapley, Governor of CCAD and former Head of College at Central Saint Martins, as well as local dignitaries and teaching staff across the whole College.

Sharron Bates, 45 from Newton Aycliffe, graduated with a first class honours degree in Textiles and Surface Design. After successfully selling her work at a New York-based textile trade fair earlier this year, Sharron has gone on to achieve an even greater level of success after Belgium-based AV Design Studio commissioned her to create a collection of designs.

Anneke Vercammen and Romain Saillart, owners of Atlas Wallcoverings, flew to Hartlepool to meet with Sharron after they bought her Art Nouveau wallpaper panel in New York at the Surtex Trade Show in May. They loved the hand-rendered work that Sharron had produced and are looking to replicate the designs with etching and 24 carat gold leaf.

After studying the degree part-time for six years, Sharron said: “The meeting was very positive and it was decided that not only would I produce a repeat wallpaper design for them inspired by the panel, but that they would like me to create a collection of wallpaper designs incorporating Art Nouveau styling.

Sharron has been invited to Belgium as a guest on completion of the collection to see how they produce their wallpapers, with a view to creating further wallpaper collections with them in the future.

She added: “I am overwhelmed and incredibly excited to be working with this amazing company. This has happened just at the moment I was beginning to consider how I would move on in my career following my graduation. I have worked as freelance artist alongside my degree, and I knew I wanted to continue to work for myself, so this opportunity has helped to realise this dream.”

On graduating, Sharron said: “I felt really daunted on the day until they put the mortar board on, then it felt right! This was the final chapter before I embark on this journey that I have wanted to do for so long. As a mature student, I gave it my all and wouldn’t have settled for anything less than a first and will enjoy the hard work by celebrating with my family.”

44-year-old Jo Stenberg from Kenton in Newcastle has graduated with a first class degree in Textile and Surface Design, and as well as celebrating her academic achievement, she has also recently won a national design competition by leading brand, Absolut Vodka.

The New Designers exhibition at London’s prestigious Design Centre – where over 3,000 of the most promising graduate talents from Britain’s leading design courses exhibit – Annie entered Absolut’s competition, now in its fifth year, to create a new design for its iconic vodka bottle.