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Published 26th Jul 2018

middlesbrough graduate set for success with sensory set design

A Middlesbrough graduate has had her artistic talents recognised after being inspired to create an interactive aquarium-themed sensory set for autistic children to enjoy across Teesside.

21-year-old Zoe Widdowfield from Linthorpe, who achieved first class honours in Production Design for Stage and Screen, developed the sensory set as a live project for Stockton-based charity Daisy Chain, which is now on display at the centre for young children and families to enjoy.

The former Cleveland College of Art and Design (CCAD) student received support from the local charity- which supports families across the Tees Valley affected by autism – and her artistic creation is now being exhibited in a special sensory room.

Zoe, who is planning to study for a Masters Degree in Art Psychotherapy, said: “The concept of the set was to educate audiences on the need for sensory equipment and aims to teach in areas such as Sensory Processing Disorder to show how sensory equipment is vital aids for individuals with SPD. I have also handmade items inside my set, such as the flooring, tactile wall canvases and tactile toys to show that parents can make their own DIY sensory equipment without having to spend a lot of money.

“I'm very passionate about the concept behind my work so I have really enjoyed putting it all together. I've had a lot of support and positive comments towards my work which has made the process very enjoyable. I've carried out lots of experimentation and exploration in terms of material choices, which has been challenging but enjoyable.”

Zoe is planning to take a year out to build up her experience through mental health training and counselling with a foundation course in Manchester with British Association of Art Therapists.

She is then looking forward to continuing her studies, as she explained: “My career goal is to become an art psychotherapist and working over the next year to gain more experience and skills. I am planning to apply for my Masters degree in Art Psychotherapy next year and I will also be continuing my voluntary work.”

Stuart Dexter, chief executive of Daisy Chain, said, ‘We have wonderful and amazing volunteers who generously offer their time and expertise to help us support families affected by autism. It’s inspirational to other young people to see how Zoe has flourished and used her experience at Daisy Chain to inform her education and career aspirations. It truly demonstrates how volunteering is a two-way street and people who offer their time develop new skills and discover new talents as well gaining satisfaction in helping others. Everyone at Daisy Chain wishes Zoe the very best for her future career.”

For more information on opportunities at CCAD contact (01642) 288888 or visit

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