Sandra Streeter, a Level 3 Fashion & Design student at Northern Regional College in Ballymena has quite literally come a long, long way.
Originally from Colombia and now living in Broughshane, Sandra is carving out a niche for herself as a talented artist.
She has just launched ‘Healing Vibes’, an unusual range of handmade bohemian chic clothes, jewellery and decorations.
A selection of her wearable artwork which was produced using upcycled and recycled materials is currently on display at the Ballymena Business Centre Shop and Exhibition Space in Church Street.
Sandra, who is in her 40s, admitted she was apprehensive about studying Fashion & Design as a mature student. She was a university graduate with teaching experience in her native Colombia so met the course entry requirements but she was still concerned about her artistic ability.
She said: “My mother was a seamstress so I’d grown up watching her working on her sewing machine at home. I knew how to sew, cut and machine, quilt and embroider but I’d never done an art class in my life and I was afraid my work might be too one dimensional. When I saw a post about the Fashion & Design course at the College on Facebook, I thought the heavens had answered my prayers. I was really excited about learning more about Fashion and Textiles but was still worried I wouldn’t be good enough.”
Her fears were completely unfounded though and, with support and guidance from Art & Design staff at the College’s Trostan Avenue campus, she soon settled into the course.
She said: “My tutors were amazing and taught me so much. When I started the course, my drawings were very childlike but with the help of the professionals, and patience, I was able to develop my skills. They taught me how to be inquisitive and develop my research skills, giving me the confidence and motivation to explore all avenues of fashion, textiles, drawing, painting, from designing through to production. I’m now able to produce the kind of work I’d never even dreamt of doing before.”
Sandra’s current collection, which is inspired by nature, includes recycled and upcycled materials with some of the more unusual items made from wet wipes.
She added: “I can honestly say that the course has transformed my life. The College is now like a second home to me. I hope to be here for a while yet as I want to do the Foundation Diploma in Art and Design when I finish this course.”
Sandra is in for a couple of busy months with confirmation that she has been offered an entire window of the Ballymena Business Centre shopfront for the month of June.
“It’s a very big space to fill but it’s a wonderful opportunity to put my work on display and I’m looking forward to the challenge,” she said.
Course director, Michele Halligan-Smyth, said: “Sandra’s very talented and has excelled in every form of Fashion & Textiles. We’ve all benefited from having her knowledge.”