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Textiles student breaks pattern of abuse and takes refuge in creativity

Textiles student breaks pattern of abuse and takes refuge in creativity

A University of Wolverhampton student studying for a Textiles and Surface Pattern degree has found the courage to break the pattern of abuse in her personal relationship and has taken refuge in the arms of creativity in the University’s School of Art. 

Rebecca Leek, 43, originally from Birmingham but now living in Stafford, is in her second year of studying for the degree and is already weaving a blanket of success having recently been named a finalist in an international Textiles competition – the only UK based finalist out of 379 designers from 27 different countries. 

Rebecca has taken refuge in rag-rugging, sewing, working with wool, stitching into paper and digitally manipulating her designs into collages, exploring different techniques to create her work. 

After finding the courage to leave an abusive marriage of 20 years, moving to another town without knowing anyone and spending time in a women’s refuge, Rebecca found support in lots of areas, including Staffordshire Women’s Aid, but it was when she was encouraged to look for an evening course that her love for arts and crafts resurfaced. 

She said: “I went to an art show where students from the University of Wolverhampton were exhibiting and I got talking to staff. Before I knew it, I was invited on to the Foundation Degree in the School of Art. I had done a ‘Building Better Opportunities’ course and this gave me the stepping-stone I needed. 

“It was really scary for me leaving my marriage with my two young children but starting a course at University has absolutely changed my life.  I have already learned so much while I’ve been studying, the tutors are a fantastic support and every day I’m excited to come here.  As a woman I thought, I’ve had my children and my life is finished, but my new life began at 40 – this has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me. 

“If anything I want to be an inspiration to other women who might be caught in a cycle of abuse and think that there’s no hope out there.  There are people who can help you and there is the possibility of another life and lots to explore – I am a prime example of how much you can achieve, even though you might think your life is over.” 

Rebecca studies full time in the School of Art and it’s her aim to be an artist in her own right.  She said: “I’m enjoying the process of learning and creating and exploring the many creative fields that are on offer. I’m going to let it evolve and potentially explore going into Art Therapy which really helped me deal with the trauma of my long-term relationship.” 

As a result, Rebecca is now researching trauma-based art as part of her degree course and she intends on continuing to enter competitions and create a new life for herself and her children. 

Anyone looking to study at the University of Wolverhampton should register for one of our forthcoming Open Days. 


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