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Student Stories: Sandra Ketteridge

Updated: Mar 25

OCA Stage 3 (HE6) Painting student Sandra originates from Staincross, near Barnsley, the home of the OCA. "I have 4 grown up children, 7 grandchildren and two great grandchildren and am 81 years old."


What is your previous educational experiences and what drew you to OCA?

At age 16 I received a distinction for my Art 'O' level, I wanted to go to Art School but my mother was a widow and I had to go out to work. I became a shorthand typist at Darton UDC, at age 25 I moved on to CISWO followed by NUM(COSA) and was made redundant at age 47.

My redundancy money was used to start a Bridal business in Hatfield, Doncaster, called Tickled Pink and retired after 30 years. My step-daughter took over the business and it continues to be very successful.

I began my studies with the OCA as a leisure painter and was offered the chance to study for a degree from September 2012 on a flexible basis with a period of 12 years to complete the course. I was delighted to accept and the flexible arrangement made it possible.

Can you describe your OCA journey?

The main challenge I faced was the isolation of distance learning. I regret not reaching out to other students and creating relationships. Interpreting the course materials was quite difficult at times and frustrating when the suggested links were outdated. The many changes OCA made to their website has been difficult for me as a Senior Student and I had a particularly objectionable Tutor in the early years which I made a complaint about which was successfully resolved. We were advised at the beginning to use WordPress for our Learning Log and I continue to use it. The OCA Spaces supported site must be a huge benefit to new students.

The Covid Pandemic and the rapid introduction of Zoom meetings was a life safer for me. I found new friends on the Course and everyone was very helpful. I enjoyed attending Study Days in Sheffield, Halifax, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Nottingham with Diana Ali at Catherine Levey's Exhibition.

What was the Tutor and/or Peer Support like on your course?

Bryan Eccleshall was a great help in Drawing 2 after my confidence was knocked by my previous Tutor. I achieved my best mark and it was because off Bryan's encouragement. Emma Drye has encouraged me throughout Level 3 and helped me to obtain a 3 month extension because my exhibition space was not available until March/April 2024.

What does studying with OCA mean to you?

I have thoroughly enjoyed the research and still have a desire to continue learning about art. My many Gallery visits have extended my knowledge of all kinds of artistic practice. The 'piece of paper' will be proof that if I had been able to study art from the age of 16 I would have been able to pursue a career in the world of art. I was a self taught artist before I joined the OCA and I had to go through a period of unlearning, before I could start to embrace some of the modern ideas and methods used in todays world of art.

What's next?

A quite substantial Art Studio has just been built in my garden with the intention of continuing to produce art. I can now hold workshops for 6 t o 8 people probably for beginners and leisure painters. I have entered paintings in the RA Summer Exhibition and in the Ferens Gallery Open Exhibition. I have Facebook and Instagram accounts to promote my work and will enter paintings on the Saatchi online gallery. I will continue my research into how nature can help the planet to survive. I feel confident my work is good enough to be offered to galleries as the story of the Seen and Unseen World is important.

Any advice?

Engage with other students. Attend Study Days. Don't struggle ask for help. Research is important but don't let it get in the way of making work. YouTube is useful for how to do things. If your relationship with your Tutor is not working, get in touch with OCA. Planning your timetable is important. Keep the momentum up. I took too long to complete the course, circumstances got in the way.


Join tutor and Programme Leader Emma Drye in Mexborough, South Yorkshire to view and discuss Sandra's body of work. Find the information here.

Follow Sandra on Instagram @artistsandraket.

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Well done you for staying the course. I'm sure fellow artists will be very grateful for your future workshops!


Congratulations on reaching the end of your studies, Sandra! Best of luck for your future plans!


Thank you for your tips, Sandra, and all the best with your next steps. Your paintings look amazing. Penny

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