Sara Gaynor – Photographer

You’re the person responsible for setting up the excellent White Wall Gallery at the White Lion: what inspired that?

I went into the pub last summer and got talking to Sergio about art and his love of culture etc, I then mentioned that I was an artist and exhibit work at times. I asked him whether he thought it would be a good idea to support and indeed exhibit local artists’ work on the walls of the pub to create a warm and locally embracing atmosphere, he agreed and his exact words were, when are you starting this project? Yesterday? We hit it off from then on and have worked really well together since then.

The main idea for the gallery set up was to try and give local artists a chance to show their work on the walls of non-traditional settings – communal spaces that everybody can enjoy/ponder etc. Art galleries at times can be daunting spaces for some people whereas a bar/communal space can be more inviting at times.

sraYour photography is often quite haunting, quite timeless. How would you describe your work?

I have always had strong visual memories from a very young age, playing in nature and running away into my own imagination. As a child I obsessively looked through my grandparents’ photo albums, photographs then and now  give me a real sense of mystery about the lives of the people I am looking at, they are much more than a photo to me but an inner dialogue is often being caught. When I photograph, I often get caught into what I would call a ‘zone’ – it’s like being hypnotised at a moment in time by visual space, time and feelings and then capturing this.  I have a real love of the unknown, mysterious, spiritual and darker sides to life and I am very interested in human emotions, which in many ways comes through in some of my work. I also have a real emotional connection and love for nature – its timelessness and its importance to our well-being as humans, hence my activism around environmentalism.

I would describe my work as fine art –  both conceptual and narrative. I am greatly inspired by films/Film makers, lesser known photographers, classical painters and nature ie. David Lynch, Lynne Ramsay, Stanley Kubrick, Elliott Erwin, Wynne Bullock, Sally Mann, Nan Goldin, Ansel Adams, Goya, Rubens, William Blake etc.

How has Beeston influenced you?

I was born at home, alone with my Mum, in a house in Beeston. My family have lived in Beeston since around the late 1800s and were orginally of Irish descent on my Dad’s side. I grew up and went to primary school in the 70s at what was then, Beeston Manor School on Church Street. Beeston in many ways then, felt like a village/small town. I had a great time at school here and loved growing up learning about such things as May Day – dancing around the May Pole and being allowed to run around the school fields in nature. I think that time in education was great in that it let teachers experiment more and have fun..70s and 80s teachers definitely inspired me in many ways.

I moved abroad to Copenhagen for some time in the late 80s but decided to come back to where my roots were and study at Nottingham Uni as a mature student.

Tell us a bit about how you got into photography /art?

My background is in teaching, social policy and working with homeless, excluded people. I was made redundant after the cuts to FE in 2010. I decided to take some time out to reconsider what path I really wanted to take.  I made a life changing decision one Sunday afternoon, it was a snapshot decision.. I loved photographs, I loved taking them so, either back to some temporary teaching, or a whole new path into studying photography. I followed my heart and chose the latter and have never, ever looked back. It’s been a fabulous journey!

Career high?

That’s a difficult one because there have been so many good times for me as a photographer. I would say being selected for varied exhibitions has been brilliant and I have met wonderful people in the art world. I love the idea and practise of creating a body of work that your heart and soul has gone into, it’s a roller coaster ride but really worth the tears! Being called and asked to teach local people because they love your work has been really humbling but great fun too. 2 highs that I guess are also high up there

Plans for future?

Many plans for the future – I am very much an idea’s led person.  I am working on a
n ongoing series of photographic work called ‘Emotional Response to Environment and Space’ – my responses to created, manipulated and natural spaces. I am also an associate member of Backlit gallery in Nottingham which in many ways, gives me further impetus for future happenings within an artistic community in the city. I am also starting to research elements of Bromley House Library in the aim of photographing narrative styled/solargraphy work at the library, I will be exhibiting the finalised work at the Library in their 200th year  – next year. I will also be exhibiting at the ABC art trail in May 2015.

My big future plan is to get over to Iceland and spend a month or so in an artist residency and really throw myself into the landscape over there! After that, who knows!


You can find more from Sara at



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