Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin…

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, her father came home with a ZX Spectrum tucked under his arm, and together with her brother, they copied ‘basic’ from the pages of Spectrum magazine for many hours only to watch a border flash or a ball bounce across a TV screen. At this young age, Sarra also loved adventure games and fighting fantasy novels, and so naturally became obsessed with The Hobbit adventure game. Borrowing Tolkien’s book from the local library, Sarra proceeded to draw maps and compile lists of action words to solve this epic adventure…but that is 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. While continuing with her creative work, she honed her practical project management skills working in a surveyors department and finance office, proving to herself she can quite happily thrive in the ‘real world’. 

She went on to have two beautiful children and when they were small, she returned to Coventry university to study Illustration. At first she mastered illustration but then, realising her skills could be adapted for animation, followed her passion for time-based art and motion.  

During her time at Coventry University, Sarra gained an initial teaching qualification in Life-Long learning. She also received the NADFAS award for a national teaching project that taught students animation skills, and on graduating, Sarra’s work was awarded D&AD New Blood Award for Film Craft : Animation.

Sarra went on to set up a small animation studio based at Mobbswood Wood studios, Coventry. It was here that she worked as an illustrator, experimental artist and a freelance animator in the animation industry. She produced puppets, props and sets for the stop-motion industry, working with some exceptionally talented people on projects that were awarded a British Animation Award, a Golden Panda, and nominations for Annecy Animation Festival and a number of other prestigious film awards. 

While directing her own animated films, researching and freelancing; Sarra also worked as a teacher and lecturer where she taught students aged between 15 to 80 in secondary, Higher Education and community settings. She has delivered lectures, tutorials, seminars and workshops at Birmingham City University School of Art and Design, Coventry University school of Arts and Humanities, Loughborough university and Staffordshire University. 

Which brings us to today.

Sarra’s work is rooted in practice-based research where her main topic of enquiry can be located in the triangulation between technologically enhanced learning (TEL) and immersive interactive technologies; an activity engaged in since 2007. Some of these experimental projects have been screened in London, U.K, The University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA, and Hangzou, China, where she has presented work and academic research papers. 

As technology continues to evolve at a dramatic rate, Sarra inexhaustibly explores new technologies, producing prototypes that include an immersive halloween themed adventure-puzzle game, a virtual art gallery and an illustrated immersive story world. Developed using the Unity Game engine and Adobe CC, these apps are currently in a test phase with Oculus and are being adapted for the Metaverse. Reseach activity informs her work and forms part of a consistent and established approach in her own research and development process. 

Exploring different technologies has taught her how to extend her skillset and it is here where she edits and breaks C# code, designs and develops game mechanics, uses photoshop to edit game assets such as maps and skydomes, uses illustrator while applying her illustration skills to develop characters, props and sets, deploys 3D modelling tools such as Blender to create digital models and uses project management tools to manage a wide variety of digital products following iterative, agile or linear waterfall models of production. 

So, why Healthcare? Well, Sarra was expecting to go on to work in an immersive studio prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, but by a pure twist of fate, joined NHS to put her skills into service. As part of an enormous joint effort, she cleaned clinics, managed patient appointments, ordered PPE, distributed lateral flow test kits and helped to produce the infection control video for the local hospital as well as helping to keep clinical staff up to date with their mandatory and elective clinical skills. She played a very small part in what was an unprecedented and highly emotive time, but she was more than happy to help where she could. 

And so, having previously worked on projects for St Andrew’s Healthcare, and then finding herself in Northamptonshire Healthcare Foundation Trust (NHFT) and then Kettering General Hospital; and having previously produced a few healthcare mobile apps, it was natural that she should find herself working in the very satisfying and rewarding field of Healthcare.

She continues to work with immersive technologies in Healthcare training for Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust  and engages in academic research as an independent researcher as an active member of the Health Education England virtual reality group. 

She currently works in a small, but perfectly formed and happy, team of creative TEL developers where she puts her skills to work everyday. She finds that conducting research, applying her project management experience, using her E-learning app development, video and animation production, illustration and technical know-how, help to support a wider team effort. 

It’s been a long journey.

And as for the future? Who knows for certain, but as long as the world keeps turning and the wheels of technology keep moving… Sarra feels fully prepared for the next adventure.