Award-winning artist Charlotte Harris receives honorary degree
Charlotte, who is based in Kent and works from her studio in Folkestone, was a studio assistant for the artist Tom Wood, whilst studying Fine Art at Leeds Met. In 2003, at the age of 21, she won the BP Portrait Award, with a painting of her grandmother, which was later purchased by Leeds Met and is on display in the University buildings. She turned professional later that year after graduating with a first class Honours degree and has exhibited consistently in galleries and at competitions both in the UK and internationally since.
Charlotte commented: "I was really delighted to receive this honorary Doctorate of Arts. It was a big surprise I didn't expect to receive it, but it's wonderful and it is great to be recognised for the work that I've done since I graduated and for my painting efforts to be appreciated.
"I think the best advice I could give to today's graduating students would be to let life take its course and not to worry too much about what they're doing in the future. Let the future take care of itself and just do their best with the opportunities they're given."
As part of the BP prize Charlotte was commissioned to portray Dame Vivien Duffield and this piece is now part of the National Portrait Gallery's collection.
Her first professional commission was that of Otley-based writer and poet Vernon Scannell, whilst subsequent commissions have included a portrait of the Rt. Rev. Richard Harries, the Bishop of Oxford and a regular contributor to the Today programme on BBC Radio 4; Sir Peter Jonas, the Staatsintendant of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, and Frank Brake, joint-founder of the wholesale food company Brake Bros Ltd.
In 2007 Charlotte completed two commissions for Leeds Met. Both portraits feature outgoing sabbatical officers from the Students' Union at the University and were commissioned as part of the celebrations marking the University's centenary year.
Charlotte has also been recognised for her still life work. Her contemporary still life pieces tackle subjects from everyday life, from fruit and paper bags to glass, paintbrushes and masking tape. In 2010 Charlotte was awarded the ING Purchase Prize at the Mall Gallery's Discerning Eye Exhibition for her painting 'Strawberries and Cream'.
Others receiving honorary degrees from Leeds Metropolitan include: mosque leader Qari Asim, who has worked tirelessly to build bridges between communities in Leeds since the 7/7 terror attacks; Managing Director at the helm of the Wakefield-based organisation Group Rhodes, Mark Ridgway OBE, DL, who oversees the group's seven engineering companies; Hanif Malik, founder and Chief Executive of the Hamara Healthy Living Centre - the largest ethnic minority organisation in the voluntary and community sector in Leeds; Chairman of the Leeds Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (GNNSJ) and champion of the city's Sikh community, Harbans Singh Sagoo, who has played a major part in supporting Sikhs in South Leeds to be a part of mainstream society and former property lawyer Nigel McClea, who has led on some of Yorkshire's largest property projects including the Royal Armouries Museum and the Jorvik Viking Centre.
Leeds Metropolitan University Vice Chancellor, Professor Susan Price, said: "As a Leeds Met graduate herself, it gives me particular pleasure to have welcomed back Charlotte to receive this Honorary Doctorate. Charlotte excelled as a student and her continued success and passion for her art is inspirational. As a University it makes us exceptionally proud to recognise one of our graduates who has made a significant contribution, in this case to the arts and we hope Charlotte enjoyed returning to Headingley, to celebrate alongside our current graduating students."