Sarah, 16, sketches way to her first exhibition with Tubridy masterpiece

A transition year student has landed her first exhibition thanks to her uncanny sketch of broadcaster Ryan Tubridy.

Sarah Ryan, a 16-year-old from just outside Wexford town, was interviewed by Tubridy on his 2FM show yesterday after the Late Late Show presenter admitted he was bowled over by the pencil drawing she had sent in of him.

The interview in turn prompted Frank O’Dea, the gallery owner from Balla Bán Art Gallery in the Westbury Mall off Grafton St in Dublin, to offer to showcase some of the teenager’s other work.

Remarkably, the incredibly detailed, accurate portrait of Tubridy took just a few hours to do — and Sarah, who attends the Loreto Secondary School in Wexford town, doesn’t study art.

However, her sketch of David Beckham, which she posted on her Instagram page last year, was endorsed by the former England captain’s official Facebook page, while pop star Pink shared her sketch on her Facebook page.

“I can’t explain it,” she said of yesterday’s events, when she went from waiting for school assembly to being interviewed live on air. “I was nearly shaking,” she said, “I couldn’t get over it.”

Sarah said she decided against studying art this year because she thought more value would be attached to her work if people realised she was self-taught. She has used her artistic skills for business reasons, however — as she stated in her email to the Tubridy Show: “Due to the immense encouragement and support that I received, I decided to sell prints of my drawings as the concept of my enterprise which is to be entered in The National Student Enterprise Awards. My enterprise is called Sarah Rose Illustrations.”

Since she began sketching famous people just over a year ago she has sold a number of sketches to classmates and others, earning up to €700. As for her method of drawing, she said she simply seeks out a high-resolution picture of someone on the internet, marks out the facial proportions and an outline and then starts drawing. Typically, a sketch can take between five and eight hours, spread out over a number of days.

“Because of the recognition I’m starting to think I should do something in this area,” she said, although she also admitted that she would love to run her own business.

She also paid tribute to her friends, who have been “so supportive,” and her 11-year-old brother, Paul, who lends his input when she is drawing.

Her father, Billy, runs a bakery in Wexford and said he and wife Edel first became of aware of Sarah’s dramatic talent about a year ago.

“It is fantastic work and it took legs today,” Billy said of the media focus on his daughter following the interview in 2FM yesterday.

He said Sarah currently viewed the sketches as a hobby and was not studying art in school, despite her obvious talent. However, the offer from Frank O’Dea means her work will now go on show to the public, although Sarah has been using her skills to her advantage through the Transition Year mini-company competition.

She now has her own Facebook page showcasing her sketches and “I am planning on doing Miley Cyrus and then after that I will take suggestions from people.”

It’s safe to say she will get more than a few offers.


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