Graduation was the icing on the cake for Cumbria’s Young Artist of the Year after a perfect year.

Poppy Cookson became the first person in her family to graduate from university when she joined 230 other students in a ceremony at Carlisle Cathedral last week.

The 22-year-old former Millom School pupil graduated from the University of Cumbria with a BA (Hons) fine art degree.

She also secured a grant from the university and the Hatfield Trust which allowed her to pay a visit Italy to explore this year’s Venice Biennale, which is one of the world’s largest international contemporary arts festivals.

And, after being accepted to join the university’s MA fine art programme, Poppy also received an invitation to take up a year-long graduate residency and the opportunity to broaden her horizons abroad.

She said: “It has been a really good year and it has given me a real confidence boost.

“One of the highlights has been taking part in the summer degree show that takes place every year for the university’s final-year arts students.

“I’ve had the opportunity to try out ideas.

“I’ve always wanted to be an artist and I’ve always been creative; be it painting, singing, drama.

“I even did an extra GCSE in art photography when I was at school when I’d already chosen to do exams in art, music and drama.

“It was when I was at college and I failed law that I picked up art A-level in my second year and my thoughts turned towards perhaps doing art at university.

“I stayed on a third year to do an arts foundation course before applying for university.

“I received three offers and after visiting I chose Cumbria because I loved the facilities, the art spaces and studios, and the small class sizes.

“I knew we’d know our tutors and they’d know us.

“It provides me with the opportunity to take a step back from education and create work and pieces on campus.

“I’ve always enjoyed being quite broad and experimental using a variety of techniques but mostly my work focuses on human and non-human relationships such as those with animals and the landscape.

“I’ve got a commission with Abbot Hall Art Gallery in Kendal and I want to focus on progressing as an artist.”

Poppy is also open to trying her hand at curacy.