Sandra also had a love of art
Published 11/06/2016 | 00:00
'I left school at 16 after my Inter Cert. I always loved art. I drew cartoons figures on every wall in my bedroom. I would go out to Ferrybank with a sketch pad and draw the town.
No-one ever encouraged me to pursue art as a career. I wanted to travel so I went to Montauk, New York when I was 17 and ended up setting up my own cleaning business. I still drew and painted and took photographs.
I had clients with beautiful houses out in the Hamptons and I was fascinated by their design and decor.
I returned to Ireland in 1994 and went into hotel management in Dublin, later returning to Wexford where I opened Chaz Bar with my brother James in 2003.
When we decided to close the bar in 2011, I got talking to John McGarrigle who taught me watercolour classes as a teenager in Wexford Vocational College and who played music in Chaz Bar. He suggested I do something with my art.
On his advice, I enrolled in a PLC in the Vocational College (now Selskar College). I thought I wouldn't get in because I had no Leaving Cert and I'd worked all my life.
Then when I got onto the Honours Degree course in the Campus, I couldn't believe that I was going to college.
Now that I'm graduating after four years, I feel great. I've grown more confident about showing my art. You're putting yourself out there and you're showing your work. It's very scary and very exciting at the same time.
It's a big thing to do, to give this much of your life to education at this stage of your life.
So many people have an artistic side to them. When I tell people what I'm doing, I often hear this wishful tone in their voices and they'll say 'oh I love art too, I take photographs all the time'.
Art is a great way of spending time with yourself. You completely go into a different zone. It's a refuge and it's yours and no-one can take it from you. I think the importance of art is undervalued in people's lives.
The work I am doing at the moment is about balancing colour and form, taking everyday things I see and presenting them in a different context.
I am proud of what I've achieved. I feel amazing. It's been hard work and a lot of commitment but it's been a fantastic experience. I have followed my dream.
I would like to do a Masters Degree after this. The thought of that is so exciting. I definitely have the bug for learning. I will continue to paint but you need a space to do that. I would like to have a studio.'