Leeds Arts University celebrates a first of its own with honorary degree for film director

Clio Barnard.
Clio Barnard.

Leeds Arts University has spent much of 2017 breaking new ground – and that is now set to continue with the award of its first ever honorary degree.

The former Leeds College of Art has chosen acclaimed film director Clio Barnard for the distinction, it was announced today.

She will receive her Master of Arts degree in a graduation ceremony taking place in Leeds this Thursday.

And the occasion will be something of a trip down memory lane for Clio, who grew up in Otley and completed a Foundation Diploma in Art & Design at the university – then called Jacob Kramer College – during the 1980s.

She said: “Honestly, it was my favourite year of my entire education. I really loved it.

“It was an exciting time – I had left home and I was learning to experiment and be creative.

“We were encouraged to play and it was very free. It’s where it all began for me.”

Leeds Arts University was given degree-awarding powers for the first time during the run-up to its switch from college status in August.

Prof Simone Wonnacott, vice-chancellor at the university, said: “Clio Barnard has made a major contribution to the UK film industry with her extraordinary and thought-provoking Yorkshire dramas.

“We are delighted to present her with the university’s first-ever honorary Master of Arts degree and I hope Clio’s success will inspire other young film-makers to make their mark in the industry.”

Clio’s latest film, Dark River, is due for release in the UK in February and stars Ruth Wilson (The Affair) and Mark Stanley (Broken, Game Of Thrones).

Around 370 graduating students from Leeds Arts University will be picking up their degrees alongside the director at this week’s ceremony.

See Thursday’s Yorkshire Evening Post for a special focus on the ceremony.