Embracing a history of illness

  • Sascha de Wolf / illustration design / Zwolle

“I was diagnosed with cancer when I was six years old. What followed was a long period of hospital visits and the necessary obstacles surrounding them. Ever since, I’ve tried to avoid hospitals. The smell, the suffocating feeling, the memories that resurface. The hospital is a large chapter from my past that I would prefer to avoid, skip, or forget.


I now understand that this has made me who I am today, which is why I have decided to embrace my history of illness and incorporate it into my work. I now realise that I didn’t have a real childhood. I was too sick to play or have a rich imagination. As a six-year-old child, I spent all my time in the grown-up world. These impressions, emotions, and proceedings made me mature at an early age. I missed out on the childish fantasy.


I now have a goal: I want to create something for sick children. My work consists of the app I made according to my own memories and experiences. It flows from reality into a dream world in which the girl experiences all sorts of things. In this way, I want to impart to the sick child that it is important for him or her to retain his or her fantasy and dream world. I’ve found that there is a need for this, partly through my own experiences and dissertation, and partly through the research for my app.


I also make graphic stories about my memories, using my own old photos. Some of the stories are incorporated in an app, others in a book. I look at which medium best suits the story. If, for example, the story requires sound for the experience and immersion, I’ll make an app. However, sometimes a single still image is also enough to tell a story.”



The Art & Design Graduation Exhibition in Zwolle takes place from 1 to 12 July.


Attend the Zwolle ArtEZ Finals Festival and discover the city’s talents. Music, design, interior design, and art education in Zwolle city centre from 22 June to 12 July.