Northumbria University unveils new exhibition celebrating life of snooker world champion Vera Selby MBE

Northumbria University is unveiling a new exhibition which celebrates the life of multiple time snooker and billiards world champion, Vera Selby MBE. With the 2024 World Snooker Championships beginning this weekend, the university decided to celebrate the pioneering sportswoman.

Vera Selby MBE was a trailblazer in many ways: as an inspirational sportswoman, equality campaigner, art educator and textile artist. She continued to play competitively into her eighties, and she passed away on her birthday in March 2023, aged 93.

Vera was born in North Yorkshire, joining Northumbria University in 1972, where she worked as a Senior Art and Textile Lecturer and then as Head of Art Education, until her retirement in 1983. Her passion for creating mixed media art from recycled and repurposed items led Vera to run outreach and training activities for teachers across the region.

Her teaching notes, lesson plans and guidance were later published as an educational book called Creative Textiles in 2000, which is still used in classrooms today. Vera’s passion for billiards and snooker was something which played a huge part in her life, after she was introduced to billiards as a child, and picked it up again in the 1960s. It wasn’t long before she was noticed by Alf Nolan, the a former British amateur billiards and snooker champion, who offered to coach her.

At a time when many snooker clubs enforced a ban on women competing, Vera began operating in a man’s world, practicing for hours in the evenings after teaching all day. Then, between 1970 and 1978, she won eight World Women’s Billiards Championships.

Very Selby MBE's billiards and snooker trophies on display at the Northumbria University exhibition celebrating her life.
Very Selby MBE’s billiards and snooker trophies on display at the Northumbria University exhibition celebrating her life.

The first Women’s World Open Championship in snooker was held in 1976, with Vera winning the title, before repeating the feat in 1981, and in the same year she was named Newcastle’s Sports Personality of the Year. She went on to command respect as a professional snooker referee and was appointed chairwoman of the North East Billiards and Snooker Association.

In 1982, the BBC made the decision to invite Vera to commentate on the World Snooker Championship that year at the famous Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. Recognised as a pioneering figure in women’s cue sports, Vera received an MBE in 2015 for her services to snooker and billiards.

Anne Parker, Vera’s friend of 30 years, said: “Through the mediums of art and sport, Vera has helped to both break down barriers and expand horizons. It is important to create a fitting legacy for a pioneer of women’s sport; champion of creativity and forerunner of recycling, a fine example of how we should be living today.

“The exhibition at Northumbria University travels from an emotive tapestry of Jesus, through to knitted bin liners. We see beautiful batik work and exquisite embroidery alongside pictures, amazingly created, from repurposed paperclips and plug heads, all beautifully presented and all demonstrating Vera’s imagination and eye for detail.”

The exhibition: Vera Selby, MBE (1930-2023): A Champion’s Life: Pioneering Sportswoman, Equality Campaigner, Art Educator and Textile Artist, will be officially launched at an open evening on Thursday 18th April, between 5pm and 8pm. It will remain open to the public until Friday 26th April at Northumbria University’s School of Design, City Campus East.

View news Source: https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/whats-on/whats-on-news/northumbria-university-unveils-new-exhibition-29017507

Scroll to Top