Growing up, Barbie Clifton thought she’d be a forensic psychiatrist, however, her artistic calling was stronger. After studying Graphic Design for six months at a Sydney university, Barbie quickly realized that the corporate world wasn’t where her career path should lead. Fine Arts was calling.

When Barbie’s now-husband transferred to Williamtown, she had no plans to move immediately to be with him, until she started looking at a Fine Arts degree at UON.

“I had a look at what the Fine Art program had to offer and it was crazy, it was exactly what I wanted. So I called him and said, ‘I’m moving to Newcastle with you’.”

At her under-graduate ceremony Barbie watched people being awarded the University Medal and thought, “I want that.” Enrolling in her honours year was an opportunity to focus entirely on the one project, to really refine and craft it.

Barbie’s honours year concept dealt with the psychology of memory. The project focused on a period of her life between the ages of three and five – when her family moved from England to settle in Australia. The most commonly overheard comment at Barbie’s exhibition at Watt Space was “I had one of those when I was little!”

When Barbie received notification of being awarded the Faculty Medal she was completely over the moon. So imagine her surprise when a short period of time afterwards she found out she was being awarded the University Medal.

“I couldn’t believe that I’d been awarded both. I feel so honoured.”

What’s next for Barbie? Hopefully a PhD at the University of Newcastle exploring how contemporary artists use memory, storytelling and emotion to create a narrative.