Sara Hannant

Traditionally, staring into flames stimulates visualisation, imagination, creativity, and even prophecy. The decision to burn my childhood Ladybird Book of Cinderella was impulsive, reacting to memories and society’s expectations of women. I didn’t realise then that the original tale speaks about a young girl’s resistance to abuse, where fire and ashes symbolise her ordeal and purification. My photographs preserve fleeting moments of immolation, transforming her rites of passage trajectory into states of urgency.

Sara Hannant

Sara Hannant’s photographic practice is open to the unexpected, the uncanny, and the unseen. Her work is informed and transformed by witchcraft, magic, and folklore. She recognises the diverse expressive qualities of photography and uses analogue, digital, and alternative processes.

Recent award-winning work includes Anima (2023), Dark Solace 2022) and Force Fields (2021), which investigate the enchanted materiality of found magic lantern slides. Her series Betwixt, selected by Alice Gabriner for Best in Show, International Photography Award (2021) depicts children interacting with imaginary photographic worlds.

Sara’s book, Of Shadows: One Hundred Objects from the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic (Strange Attractor Press, 2017), with museum director Simon Costin, reveals magical artifacts emerging from the darkness. Her long-term project Mummers, Maypoles and Milkmaids: A Journey through the English Ritual Year, became a Horniman Museum touring exhibition and book (Merrell, 2011).

In Numinous (2013), commissioned by Forty Hall Museum, she conjures visual folk magic with votive rags removed from a Cornish holy well, which inspired her installation at the inaugural Magickal Women Conference 2019 in London. Lunation (2019) commissioned by Moon Festival, offers a multi-layered response to Londoner’s stories about the moon. Her ongoing series Your House is on Fire, uses fire to redefine fairytale images of ‘persecuted heroines’.

Sara began her practice in the documentary photography tradition, working for international NGOs, UK charities, newspapers and magazines. She also curated exhibitions, ran community darkrooms, led photography workshops and contributed to The King’s Fund leadership programme for over twenty years.

She studied Art and Design in the Social Context at Dartington Art College (1984-6), Documentary Photography at Newport (1986-88), and Transnational Art at the University of the Arts London (2010). From 2010-2024, she lectured at City, University of London. She has also lectured at London Metropolitan University, Supernormal, Walburg Institute, Conway Hall, and NYU.


Categories: , , , , , , , ,


Contact Photographer