Listen to Simone’s interview on radio 4 ‘midweek’

Media Blackout in Tibet by Tenzin Rigten 15 years

Media Blackout in Tibet by Tenzin Rigten 15 yearsImage 1 of 19

I was born in Bhutan but my parents are Tibetan and I have strong feelings for Tibet. Sometimes it hurts a lot when I hear about the harsh way Tibetans are treated there. I observe Tibet in films and photographs and I really want to go there one day when I can.

Explanation of my work:

My painting is a symbol of the power of the ban on any journalists going into Tibet. So the world knows nothing of the huge suffering of the Tibetan people. They are imprisoned, tortured and killed for peaceful protests or for just owning a photo of the Dalai Lama. The black in my painting represents the blackout in Tibet and if the red hand of China was removed, you would see the true picture inside Tibet.

Self-Immolation by Kesang Wangchu 16 years

Self-Immolation by Kesang Wangchu 16 yearsImage 2 of 19

There are many people in Tibet who are setting themselves on fire and dying for our nation. When looking into the eye of self immolators we can see all this pain and emotion that they feel as their body burns and still they shout out ‘FREE TIBET, BRING HOME THE DALAI LAMA!’


Tibetans Enslaved In Their Own Country by Guru Kyap 14 years

Tibetans Enslaved In Their Own Country by Guru Kyap 14 yearsImage 3 of 19

My name is Guru Kyap. I came from Tibet when I was 11; it was a very long journey and I was very sad to leave my parents. I thought life would be hard living in a place with no family. I was afraid of feeling lonely and yearning to see my parents but I have met many people who care for me and help me through tough times as my parents would have done. I am so grateful to Tibetans Children’s Village for providing me better life.

Explanation of my work:

The nail in this drawing represents Chinese Government. They trap our people, torture them and they never allow Tibetans to leave Tibet. The guns and cameras tell us that Tibet is always under the watchful eyes of the authorities. They spy on Tibetans whatever they do. If they catch Tibetans leaving the Tibetan border, they will kill them without a second thought.


Escape from Tibet by Moonlight by Sonam Gyal 12 years

Escape from Tibet by Moonlight by Sonam Gyal 12 yearsImage 4 of 19

I am a Tibetan refugee now living in Dharamsala, India. I left my family in Tibet when I was very young and travelled across the Himalayas by the light of the moon and stars to reach India so that we would not be seen by the authorities. My parents wanted me to learn Tibetan and be brought up as a Tibetan Buddhist, which is no longer possible in Tibet under Chinese occupation.


One Day by Pema Tsering 14 years

One Day by Pema Tsering 14 yearsImage 5 of 19

This is my dream that one day Tibet and China will live peacefully together and there will be no more hatred and suppression. We will all be able to return to our homeland and practice  our religion and culture without fear while living harmoniously alongside the Chinese.

The Buddha Sees Everything by Phurbu Dorji 15 years

The Buddha Sees Everything by Phurbu Dorji 15 yearsImage 6 of 19

   I am Phurbu Dorji and I am from Kham in Tibet. I am from a simple family consisting of 5 members. My father is a businessman and my mother is a housewife. They both were my image of perfection. We are not allowed to learn about our traditions, religion or language in Tibet and my parents could only afford to send one child to India so they sent me alone with strangers. I trip, I fell, I cried, I hurt on the way but I didn’t give up. I felt the coldness of my bones  aching with the wind blowing and the absence of my parents, I missed them so badly but I locked them with myself. I arrived in India aged 11 and was brought to the Tibetan Childrens’ Village which is my second home. Everyone is very good here and their love and care is no less than our biological relatives. I love you TCV with all my heart and I will repay your kindness in the future


Explanation of my work:

“No matter whether it is in the presence of a judge or the law and you carry out any kind of deed, productive or non-­‐productive, the holy presence of the Great Lord Buddha always lingers around in the air. We are under his watchful eyes.”

Ancient Traditions by Tenzin Dorjee 15 years

Ancient Traditions by Tenzin Dorjee 15 yearsImage 7 of 19

 The traditions of Tibet go back thousands of years. It has a rich culture and its people are deeply religious.

 In my painting:

The OM in the centre represents the Tibetan language and the alphabet.

The image of Buddha symbolises the flourishing of Tibetan Buddhism across Tibet. The Namgyal Stupa is the symbol of Tibetan craftsmanship.

The circle symbolises Tibetan medicine.

The rectangle on the outside is the symbol of science and logic.

My Kids.

My Kids.Image 8 of 19

My Kids

My Daughter.

My Daughter.Image 9 of 19

My Daughter

The Butterfly watches.

The Butterfly watches.Image 10 of 19

The Butterfly watches.

Barack Obama

Barack ObamaImage 11 of 19

Barack Obama

Nicolas Sarkozy

Nicolas SarkozyImage 12 of 19

Nicolas Sarkozy

Tiger Woods

Tiger WoodsImage 13 of 19

Tiger Woods

Nelson Mandela

Nelson MandelaImage 14 of 19

Nelson Mandela

Audrey Hepburn

Audrey HepburnImage 15 of 19

Audrey Hepburn

Jim's Penguins

Jim's PenguinsImage 16 of 19

Jim’s Penguins

Richard's Dream House

Richard's Dream HouseImage 17 of 19

Richard’s Dream House

Bridget's Snowman

Bridget's SnowmanImage 18 of 19

Bridget’s Snowman

Floating Flowers

Floating FlowersImage 19 of 19

Floating Flowers

Art Projects

Simone Sandelson has spent the last few years teaching painting to prisoners, hospice patients and refugees. Her most recent project has been in Dharamsala, India, where she has been teaching art workshops to Tibetan children living in exile. She has encouraged them to share their memories and experiences in Tibet through their paintings. Their work is direct and poignant and especially relevant as the west is largely ignorant of the Tibetans’ struggle to retain their identity due to a media blackout in Tibet.

She started by offering a course in Portrait Painting at Wormwood Scrubs Prison. The prisoners brought in, often small crumpled photos of their loved ones and painted their portraits with so much tenderness. They discovered new qualities in themselves and developed real confidence reinforced by their delighted families. Most have little or no experience of painting, yet when given the opportunity the results can be spectacular. Other projects included Heroes, Sporting Personalities, Film Stars and these proved to be a great means of communication among foreign prisoners from many different countries, who spoke very little English.

Creative projects at Trinity Hospice proved to be equally transformative. The patients created their own ‘story’ through painting to make sense of what is happening to them and what really matters. Feelings are often difficult to put into words but painting restores a sense of self-worth and motivation in changing circumstances as well as real friendship and the sharing of ideas.

BA Hons, Art History, University of Manchester
Foundation Course, Art Therapy, Goldsmiths College
Art Teacher’s Certificate, Institute of Education, University of London
MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction)

Restorative Justice Practitioner
Peace Education Program Facilitator at HMP Thameside

Teaching Experience:
Wormwood Scrubs Prison
Trinity Hospice
Helen Bamber Foundation
Art workshops at Tibetan Childrens Village, Dharamsala, India.