Has a debilitating degenerative disease prevented Sandra Hanekom from soaring as an artist and entrepreneur? Hell no.
Matter of fact is that drawing has been Sandra’s way of living life to the fullest since age two after being diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth Type 1 disease (CMT1). One of the most common inherited neurological disorders, the disease is also known as hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy (HMSN), comprising a group of disorders that affect peripheral nerves.
A prolific artist and well-known curator for the past 25 years, she matriculated from the Johannesburg School for the Arts (previously Die Kruin) and studied Fine Arts at Stellenbosch University. “I’ve always wanted to be an artist. This passion has effectively ruined the prospect of ever being anything else! It also has made me quite obsessed with art,” Sandra explained.
In her words, her paintings are deceptive: “pretty, yet disturbing”, portraying a brittle beauty. “The colours are lush but austere in many ways. And I like using symbolism.”
No longer able to apply broad brush strokes due to the CMT progression which has left her with less than 30% function in her hands, Sandra has had to adapt her painting style to one requiring lighter brush strokes. However, she gives a lot of attention to her craft, analysing different ways of depicting scenes reminiscent of 16th century German and Dutch artists. While intertwining formal illustration with seemingly alien elements, she poses questions about the limits of the ugly and the beautiful. “My paintings are a result of associations, feelings and various intuitions – much like within a dream. I want the images to be symbolic and credible, yet impossible,” she said.
With her artworks featuring in museums and corporate offices internationally, self-proclaimed archliberal Sandra served as the visual arts curator of the KKNK (Klein Karoo National Arts Festival) from 2012 – 2015. She’s been nominated for various art awards for her solo art exhibitions and curatorships, receiving two KKNK Kanna, two Kyknet Fiesta and two Woordfees nominations. In 2015 she received the Woordfees award for best visual art production and the following year a KKNK Kanna award for curating skills.
When her first husband was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, the couple moved to Piketberg in 2004 for a quieter life. After his death, Sandra married local farmer cum photographer Ferdinand Bruwer. Together they run the local art gallery right next door to their Victorian home (which actually used to be the Nedbank building). She also uses the gallery to teach adult art classes.
From time to time, Sandra and Ferdinand swop their idyllic life in Piketberg for as charmed a life at their little cottage in Limousin, France. But wherever they are, you can bet your bottom dollar that you’ll find Sandra reading (or bathing!) when not painting.
To veg out I soak in the bath with candles and aromatherapy oils
As a sport spectator, I love watching bowls
My pet place on the West Coast is Elands Bay
My favourite restaurant is Russells on the Port in Port Owen
I love eating seafood
My signature drink is a pink gin and tonic
Best TV programme is The Handmaid’s Tale
Favourite reads are historical nonfiction, Gunter Grass and Margaret Atwood
Children: a son in matric and 2 stepdaughters
Pets: Pekingese Penelope
Sandra can be contacted on 076 9959807