Sheila Fleet OBE, one of Scotland's leading designer-makers of gold, silver and platinum jewellery, is today being awarded a Master Of Arts Honorary Degree by the University of Edinburgh at a ceremony for over 440 graduates from the Schools of Art, Design, Music, History of Art and Architecture & Landscape Architecture.
Sheila, who graduated from Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) with a Diploma in Arts & Crafts in 1967, and who won many prizes during her time here, is being awarded her degree by Professor Christopher Breward, Principal of ECA and Vice-Principal of the University of Edinburgh.
Sheila was the second of four sisters, known as the Dearness sisters, to attend ECA between 1960 and 1980. All four sisters are due to attend the graduation ceremony after a tour of ECA during which they are meeting current staff and browsing archival material from their time at the College.
The Dearness sisters at ECA, 1960-1980
The four Dearness sisters are Connie, Sheila, Dorothy and Leila.
Connie graduated in 1964, specialising in drawing and painting. She became a secondary school teacher on the island of Orkney; many of the students she nurtured went on to study at Edinburgh.
Sheila graduated in 1967, specialising in jewellery and fashion design. She was awarded a Post Diploma for a further year's professional training. Having gained the highest award possible, she travelled extensively, before relocating to Orkney in 1977. In 1993, after 26 years in the jewellery industry, she set up her own business, Sheila Fleet Jewellery. She was awarded an OBE in 2013.
Dorothy graduated in 1969, specialising in glass and ceramics. She ran her own business for a number of years and now assists Sheila with exhibitions.
Leila graduated in 1980, with a first class BA degree in Tapestry (the College’s first). She has a successful tapestry/rug business in Orkney and her daughter also went to ECA.
The Class of 2014
It was a highly successful year for the Class of 2014, with footfall at the annual Degree Show up 23% on 2013. 443 students graduate at McEwan Hall today: 261 in the morning ceremony (for the School of Architecture & Landscape Architecture and the School of Art); and 182 in the afternoon ceremony (for the Schools of Art, Design, History of Art and the Reid School of Music).
Prizewinning students of 2014 include Karen E Donovan and Harry Morgan, recipients of the Goldsmiths Company Award for Jewellery and the Contemporary Glass Society Associate Prize respectively at New Designers 2014; animator, Thomas Fraser, winner of the Design in Action Prize for Commercial Potential; and Colleen Leitch, winner of the David Band Textiles Award at Graduate Fashion Week 2014. 15 students from the School of Art have been selected to show at the Royal Scottish Academy New Contemporaries Exhibition 2015, together with five students from the School of Architecture & Landscape Architecture.
In addition to Sheila Fleet, a Master Of Arts Honorary Degree is also being conferred upon former ECA Student Union general manager and welfare officer, Graham Dey, awarded for services to students.