Antonella Sands is a versatile London-based artist, illustrator, and educator, as well as a trainee art therapist. She works on various projects (including book illustrations) and portrait commissions.
She believes creativity is the key to unlocking our inner selves and well-being, and that it connects us to our true selves.
Art and self-expression are her core passions. She developed a fervent love for drawing and art at an early age with a special fascination for people and surrealistic, fantasy imagery.
Antonella is a mixed media artist; she uses a variety of mediums, including acrylic, pastel, watercolour pencils, and inks. Although she experiments with a variety of materials, she predominantly uses pencils and acrylics. When drawing, she attempts to express the beauty of the the unseen which lies beyond conventional forms.
Through experimenting, trying things out without knowing where it will lead, discoveries can be made, connecting her with the subconscious mind, which is part of the creative process.
Her rich sources of inspiration are myths, legends, fables; these influences are diverse and include a love for literature, photography, theatre, and fashion.
“My art is an expression of my soul journey: it incorporates personal stories, memories, states of mind, and dreams”.
Creativity has allowed her to visualize and transform experiences, memories, and feelings through the process of creating artworks; connecting to her spirituality and helping her to cope with distressing experiences and difficulties she’s dealt with since an early age. She recalls drawing small paper fairies, as a child, and releasing them from her balcony, hoping they would come back to take her to their magical kingdom, rescuing her from her pain. This cathartic process helped her to cope with stressful events.
Art has been an outlet to explore and enhance her wellbeing and has enabled her spiritual needs to be explored and expressed. Antonella is passionate about promoting creativity and self-expression to enable others to better their mental health, especially those who suffered from trauma, distress, mental health issues, and adverse childhood experiences.
She works as an early years consultant and has been teaching in different educational backgrounds for 25 years, promoting self-expression and creativity; leading creative workshops and projects with families, children, and early years leaders in their communities.
When working with children with physical disabilities, trauma, or behavioural challenges she uses sensory activities to enhance all five senses, strengthening skills such as hand-eye coordination as well as helping people to make sense of their personal experiences. When working with children with trauma and emotional difficulties; she uses activities like “paint your emotions” to promote self-healing and self-regulation.
She has a keen interest in psychology and neuroscience, especially the connection between early years attachment and brain development. This led her to study art psychotherapy at master’s level, which acts as a bridge between her love for art and self-expression, and her commitment to helping vulnerable people using a psychotherapy-informed approach.
Those from disadvantaged backgrounds are more exposed to toxic stress which impairs the nervous system’s optimal functioning, creating issues for development, behaviour, and mental health. The use of art materials in therapy allows meaning making through the process of self-expression, which allows people to access the subconscious mind and convey distressing emotions that are too painful to be verbalized.
Antonella is passionate about promoting creative approaches to enhance mind-body and brain healing, connecting us to our subconscious and helping us to make sense of our stories, strengthening our sense of identity.
Her children’s book “Dreams in a box”, published on Amazon in 2016, was the result of an unusual dream: in 2014 she dreamt a rhyming story for children. Later, she translated her dream into an illustrated story, giving voice to her subconscious self and her inner world.
Dreams in a Box celebrates every child’s unique dream and their potential to achieve it. It is designed to promote children’s true potential and self-confidence and to enhance their wellbeing. The book supported children in need charities.
Amongst her projects, in 2020 she worked on a collaboration with multilingual author AM Hellberg and illustrated two of her fiction books Hug-Snow Days and when Pat Met the Curry Cat.
In 2022 and 2020 she received the Ian Wright graphic Award 1st prize with her artwork “Angel of Peace” and “Four Seasons” from Harrow Art Society’s President, Cheryl Gould.
These works were created as a result of the artist connection with her own spirituality and subconscious, exploring the concept of transformation.
“Four seasons” was inspired by a 1920 picture of a lady. The sense of calm and melancholy that it emanated prompted Antonella to start sketching the eyes and recreate her own version of it.
Later, she incorporated different elements of nature and its seasons in an unusual montage: the lady of the drawing had become the cyclic seasons of nature, through a cathartic process of transformation.
“The eternal cycle of the seasons reminds me that nothing really dies and that life renews itself constantly”.
Angel of Peace was created during lockdown – a time of uncertainty and confusion, but also a time to reflect and meditate, to heal our soul. The artwork attempts to bring healing, peace, and brotherhood in a broken society.
In 2019 her artwork Soul Retrieval was awarded the second prize by Harrow Art Society’s President, Cheryl Gould.
This artwork involved the artist’s painful journey during her childhood; she gave voice to her subconscious by allowing whatever symbol came to mind to be represented in the portrait, sketching different elements as part of her personal story. The process of “soul retrieval” gave her the opportunity to re unite her older self with the younger version of her, during a process that, despite being at times challenging, brought balance, self-acceptance, and wholeness.
In 2017 her painting Angel of Silence was awarded second prize by international artist DashiI Namdavov at the event if I can in Harrow.
Antonella also worked as a fashion designer and illustrator in Italy, her native country.
She is mainly a self-taught artist, and as part of her professional development she attended short courses in Fashion illustration using Photoshop with City Lit and Fashion Design and Marketing at Central Saint Martin College of Art and Design.
Antonella is a member of different art societies and takes part in their annual exhibitions and projects in London, where she lives; her work has also been featured in local newspapers and magazines.