Sandy Layton

Life beyond the comfort zone

Life has a habit of drawing you in. Our brain has a habit of keeping us there. It’s quite unfair of it! We are hard-wired to stay within our comfort zone and the warning lights go crazy when we try and step beyond it. It doesn’t matter how small the change might be, our minds will resist and the bigger and more scary the proposition, the stronger the resistance.

There are some people who seem to be able to break free from the shackles of their minds and push forward regardless. They have an innate ability to short circuit the noise in their head that tells them to stop, and take the leap anyway, When observing such people, it is easy to take an ‘it’s easy for them but I could never do that’ approach. In so doing, not only do we do them a disservice, but we completely underestimate ourselves and undervalue our limitless resources.

One my great passions is helping women to unlock those resources and then watching them fly. I also love to shout about their success, not only to acknowledge it with the importance it deserves, but also to inspire others to push beyond their perceived limits. This blog gives me the opportunity to do just that.

I have asked Sandy, this month’s phenomenal woman, to share with us a little about her background, what motivated her to follow her passion and apply to the Royal College of Art, and what she has learnt along the way. You will find a lady with a dream who could so easily have had a very different outcome had she not overcome her fears and stepped beyond her comfort zone.

Over to Sandy:


Sandy Layton portraitOn her background…

My artistic development has been a life-long process. A love of art encouraged by my French mother provided a counterpoint to the austerity of post-War West London where I grew up.

I went on to train as an art teacher, specialising in ceramics, and then worked with children who had learning and emotional difficulties. This experience led me to retrain and I pursued a career as a psychotherapist working first with children and later with adults, which gave me a wealth of experience in human relationships.

After marrying and raising two daughters I returned to ceramics, undertaking the diploma course at the City Lit. I then worked for some years as a ceramicist, experimenting with a range of approaches. But, wishing to develop a more personal voice in my work, I decided to pursue further studies, doing an MA at Kingston School of Art before undertaking the MA at the Royal College of Art.

On life lessons..

Getting older has made me realise that life is short and precious. Those realisations have helped to focus my attentions on what I would have liked to have done in my life. At school, I did not achieve a great deal perhaps because I was dyslexic and in those days no-one understood about learning difficulties. I also found it difficult to engage and focus on my lessons. I was easily distracted by hearing about the lives and opinions of other classmates particularly when they came from other cultures. I left school without having achieved very much and without a great deal of self-belief. I had a lot of catching up to do.

On her work…

Life is precious but precarious; paradoxically, an awareness of life involves an awareness of death. Paradoxes run through my work which is both static and fluid: geometric forms, composed of straight angular lines and planes, co-exist with soft curving loops that dance above and around the work.

Help along the way…

Looking back, I realise that any significant developments I have made involved a mentor, one I trusted and who believed in me. This bolstered me up and encouraged me to improve myself and over time, this has made a real difference to my self-esteem.

Turning to people for support is something I do as much nowadays as in the past. For example, whenever I have to undergo a procedure in hospital I always ask the nurse if she would mind if I held her hand. The nurses invariably respond warmly and I feel no longer alone with my fears and less afraid of whatever lies ahead. Holding hands is a metaphor for my relationship with some of the staff at the Royal College of Art and whose ideas and suggestions were instrumental in my having made as much progress as I did.

A lesson from the Royal College of Art…

It is important to be open to new ideas even though initially they may be challenging, because given time,  these new ideas can lead to seeing the world differently.

Words of advice…

Try to overcome your fears and to take the jump. It is never too late.


A big thanks to Sandy for sharing her words of wisdom. To view more of her beautiful work, visit her website.


  1. Really inspiring, insightful and galvanising. What a wonderful. newsletter Lindsay and Sandy. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and journeys.

  2. Janet Wootton

    Well done Sandy what an amazing result. Thank you for sharing your journey, it’s very inspiring.
    Thank you Lindsay I have enjoyed your newsletter

  3. Joanne Leck

    Such inspirational words, giving hope and encouragement to anyone who want to make a change in the direction of their lives. Love reading your ‘blogs’ Lindsay ! Gives us a real boost in these uncertain times. Keep them coming. Thank you !

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