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Chance visit to university transforms life of artist who battled through chronic back pain to graduate

1 November 2017

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Making creations out of wire to ease the pain of a chronic back problem and a chance day out with a friend transformed the life of a Welshpool artist who never knew she had a creative talent.

Before accompanying a friend to an interview at Wrexham Glyndwr University’s art school three years ago, Tara Squibb was a virtual recluse in her own home after retiring from work due to ill health.

But when she was asked to demonstrate to a lecturer what she’d been making - and impressed them enough to be offered a place on the university’s Applied Arts degree - 48-year-old Tara embarked on a journey which would see her exhibit work across the UK.

She also set up her own studio at home and secured a first class degree, which she will collect in a ceremony at the university on Thursday 2 November.

“I only ever hoped to at least pass,” said Tara, who started her career working for the Women’s Royal Army Corps. “So when I found out I’d got a first I was shaking like a leaf and cried.

“The last three years have been a rollercoaster, a total life-changer for me. I was in so much pain I’d virtually stopped going out and even on the day I first visited the university, I nearly cancelled as my back was so bad.

“I showed one of the tutors what I’d made while my friend was setting up her laptop to do a presentation and minutes later I had been offered a place on the course, subject to formal confirmation by the university.

“I wasn’t even looking for a course or to study art but I had nothing to lose. I started that September and it totally changed my attitude towards what I could achieve.”

Tara was one of only 13 graduates from across the UK to have their work selected for an exhibition at the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair in Manchester two weeks ago.

Her work is also stocked by FBC London, an interior designer on the city’s Pimlico Street, including some designs which the company stocks exclusively.

Tara said: “I enjoyed every minute of the course and I can’t thank the staff enough for their help and support throughout.

“I also owe my husband a huge thank you for all of the support he’s given me throughout my studies.

“My time at university has given me a new outlook on life, a huge amount of knowledge and new skills, more confidence and self-belief.

“I’m now passionate about ceramics, I’ve applied to exhibit at ceramic art shows and I’m hoping to start running workshops from next year at the studio I’ve created at home,” added Tara.

“My back problems have been with me all through the course and will never disappear but I didn’t miss out on anything. It’s important to work outside your comfort zone and aim high and the staff at Wrexham Glyndwr University are brilliant at enabling you do that.”

Tara’s work can be viewed at