Sandra Mendelsohn, 49, from Roermond, the Netherlands, is a visual artist who specialises in drawing and painting. Having been interested in art all Sandra’s life she still had not taken the leap into pursuing her art as a career. The urge to create only came about after suffering from a breakdown 6 years ago. Sandra turned to drawing for release and as a kind of healing meditation, putting her thoughts into every piece of art.
Drawing all day long Sandra said she could not stop, almost in a trance, a mindful escape had taken hold. Although these first drawings are not available to see as they are just for Sandra, who says they are too personal for show, these first creations led to the exceptional work Sandra crafts today.
A doodling kind of style with colour bursting from the page, with precise lines which take the eyes on a guided tour of the inner workings of Sandra’s mind and thoughts. An original style which is unforgettable and which will have you staring at its complexity for hours.
Sandra began drawing at 5 years old and her passion took her to art school but this ended after 2 years, leading her to industrial architecture which Sandra found not to be her thing. Having also studied fashion design and taking drawing and painting courses all of these disciplines have contributed to Sandra’s unique style of art.
ASLI wanted to speak to Sandra about her art, goals and about her submission for our campaign “Mental Illness, Health and Recovery” here is the interview:
What motivates you and what is your process when creating?
I never have an end result in mind, so that in fact is my motivation, wanting to see what it looks like when it is finished.
I start with one object or theme in my head, I get my ideas in bed just before I go to sleep, the time of night when you over think your day. Then the ideas pop into my mind then I start drawing, the drawing comes along when I’m in the process of creating. When I have finished the sketch I then start drawing, I have no idea what the colours will be, it chooses by itself.
Who are you influenced by within your artistic discipline and what inspires you?
I’m influenced with 70’s art, like Peter Max and Alan Aldridge, I’m also influenced with pop-surrealism with artist like, Mark Ryden, Marion Peck, Paolo Pedroni and Yosuke Ueno and I’m also influenced with Art Nouveau and Baroque art.
In general I’m inspired by everything; music, art, fashion, nature, my youngest son, dreams and fairy-tales.
What causes and world issues are you passionate about, campaign for, volunteer for…?
I’m passionate about animals and nature, we have to take care of our planet, if that disappears, we disappear, we need nature to stay alive, I’m also passionate with art its a legacy we leave behind, I think kids has to learn about art, not only, paintings but also music dance, poetry and books, it enriches our lives.
What do the statements “art saves lives” and “art creates change” mean to you?
Art saved my life, literally and figuratively! If I didn’t have my art, I honestly don’t know whether I would be standing right now. I felt a release to create and express my thoughts on paper, I could express my darkest thoughts on paper. It is like when I draw, I draw my thoughts straight out of my head, its revealing and healing at the same time.
What are your present and future goals for your art?
I create my own story but I want to see people and their stories in my art, I also want to create happiness and I always put a little humour in my art.
I just want to draw and make art. I hope I can spread a message and a little happiness and that people can find their self in my art.
Here is Sandra Mendelsohn’s submission piece for our campaign:
The following question are about mental health:
Can you tell us about your own experiences with mental illness?
I have borderline personality disorder and my art helps me to catch my thoughts. I have known for 5 years now that I have it, but I always knew there was something different within me so it was a kind of relief to know what was going on. I don’t let it overrule my life I have it and that is fine, it is a part of me. You have to accept it and don’t let it overrule you, you have to remember you are more than BPD alone. Art is my way of expressing myself and helps me with my meditation to calm myself and to relieve me from the intrusive thoughts.
Have you ever experienced being stigmatised or marginalised due to your mental health or have you seen this happen to someone else?
I have never been stigmatised and I never seen it happen to someone else. I think its important to just be yourself, your mental illness is just a small part of you, but I have to say that I think if it wasn’t for my mental illness I couldn’t create what I do right now.
Have you ever received treatment for mental health and if so, what was it, did it help and was it private or state funded?
I’m on medication for my BPD and it helps me a lot but to start to “recover” you have to accept it and accept yourself.
Have you ever had any creative therapies as part of your treatment, did it help?
I had creative therapy that is where I picked up my passion for creating again, so yes I think creative therapy helps a lot.
What made you want to get involved with ASLI’s MENTAL ILLNESS, HEALTH AND RECOVERY CAMPAIGN?
I think ASLI makes it easier for people to communicate with each other. Also to show artists and others; your not standing alone! Also it is a great inspiration for creativity and in this campaign it makes mental illness a lower threshold for people.
We at ASLI want to de-stigmatize diagnosis labels within mental illness so that people treat others and their own mental health label as that of a diabetic or any other chronic “physical” illness, as we know the brain is physical and this would further improve stigma and marginalising mental illness. How do you feel about diagnosis labels?
I don’t know how to feel about diagnosis labels? On one hand, I think its a good thing, so people can get help if they need it, on the other hand you can create stigma, like I said before do not let the mental illness overrule you, you are more than an illness or the stigma attached.
Everyone within ASLI is affected in some way by mental illness, with our MD having several chronic mental illnesses and other members either caring for or dealing with mental health issues. Would this make you think twice about working with ASLI? And does this make ASLI “less professional” in your opinion and if so why?
I think its a good thing that everyone in ASLI is affected in some way by mental illness because ASLI can understand other people and know what they are going through and even know how to help.
I think its a strength not a weak point!
If you would like to know more about Sandra Mendelsohn then please follow these links:
If you would like to find out more about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) here are some helpful links: