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Sarra was born in Coventry, to her father, an engineer and musician; and her mother, a writer. She grew up on the outskirts of a small hosiery town where she spent her formative years playing in wild habitats, blackberry fields, cow ponds and brooks, near where she lived. Together with other local children; She had free access to the natural world.
In the early 1980’s, Sarra’s father brought home the families first computer, the ZX Spectrum . Together with her brother, She spent many days producing simple game graphics. Using BASIC code copied from the pages of Spectrum magazine, they watched avidly as a border flashed and a ball bounced across the TV screen. She also became interested in adventure games such as The Hobbit. Borrowing Tolkien’s book from the local library; Sarra drew maps and compiled lists of action words to solve this epic adventure…but that’s another story.
Sarra’s brother went on to work with computers in the car industry and became involved in the local Demoscene. She, on the other hand, went back outside to play in nature, grow trees and make things. Later she would use her skills to hack the companies first personal computer in the surveyors office where she worked. Using lotus 1-2-3 , she set up a small surveyors control system to make things easier for everyone. While working in Industry she collected an eclectic set of business skills. These ranged from managing profit and loss accounts, presenting sales and marketing material, Human Resources, health and safety, and contract law while working with some amazing people along the way. All the while, she kept a sketchbook and worked on commissioned art work in the evenings.
Sarra returned to Coventry University later in life when her children were small. She initially chose to study Fine Art and Illustration. However, she soon discovered Animation as her primary art form. Her early influences were artists such as William Kentridge, Theo Yansen and Len Lye, as well as eastern european animators such as Jan Svankmajer, Yuri Norstein and Lotte Reiniger.
In these early years, Sarra trained in drawn Illustration, CGI Animation and produced puppets, props and sets for the stop-motion animation industry. Many of these projects went on to be nationally recognised, recieving awards which included D&AD New Blood, Student Award for Film Craft Animation and The Campaign for Drawing, Big Draw NADFAS Award for teaching animation to secondary school children. She was blessed to work with some exceptionally talented people on projects that were awarded a British Animation Award and Golden Panda as well as receiving nominations for Annecy Animation Festival and BAFTA; a project on which Sarra worked as prototype modeller, animator and studio manager.
Along side her commercial work, Sarra has always been preoccupied with the experience of immersion in ‘natural’ , built and virtual worlds. She has spent many years following her nose, experimenting with new tools and techniques both in industry and Academia. Some of these projects have been screened in London, U.K., The University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA, and Hangzou, China. Although it would have been nice to have spent more time in the creative industry (an industry not known for its child friendly practices), Sarra was self employed as a freelancer for 10 years has been very lucky to be able to develop her skills in a relatively organic way.
Now her children are fully grown, Sarra is exploring new commercial avenues. She is currently working with the unity game engine to create XR (VR/AR/MR) Immersive experiences and screen based applications. She has discovered a true passion for immersive environment design. She loves to focus on how small details in a scene can contain deep information (semiotics), how players navigate internal and external world space (wayfinding and mental modelling) and how participants use all their senses to locate themselves in space and time (proprioception).
Sarra would like to realise her ambitious creative visions and knows that the only way to do this is to work with a great team. She has the skills to work as a creative and/or producer (whatever the project needs). Sarra most definitely has two heads. She can apply both her business and creative minds to breathe life into new worlds; whether that is on screen, on a headset, in real space or a magical mix-up of multi media.
So what next? …