Calanit Schachner-Laufer is a photographer and artist originally from Israel, who has lived in London for the past 16 years. Her work uses photography and imagery, and experiments with different processing techniques and photographic approaches. She obtained a Fine Arts degree from the Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem, before completing her MA in Fine Arts at Goldsmiths College in London, and it was during this course that she first became involved in a charity called Art Through Touch. As part of her studies, she was set a project to create an art experience for a group of people, and started thinking about how visually impaired people interact with art, Calanit explains, “I wanted to try and understand the disability and how it affects their art experience, so I could create something that would help develop their appreciation of art.” She worked closely with Art Through Touch, and the education department at the Victoria and Albert Museum to create a ‘touch tour’ around the museum. The tour allowed the participants to get up close and physically touch and interact with the art, so that they could get a better understanding of the piece, and the meaning behind it. Throughout the experience, Calanit also encouraged the group to capture their feelings and other members of the group by taking photos as a way to explain their experience.
Her interest and understanding of visual impairment continued beyond this project, and she worked with the charity on a voluntary basis taking groups to visit other museums and galleries. It was through her involvement with the group, that she started a collaboration with one of the members, which culminated in her final graduation exhibition, entitled ‘Seeing Blind’. The exhibition explored the concept of vision, perception and blindness through photography.
Throughout her career, Calanit has held exhibitions at many of London’s top galleries, and received awards and accolades for her work, but alongside her commercial work, she has also used her expertise to help others. She has worked closely with Norwood running photography and art workshops, teaching people about photography and other art techniques, and created a portraiture project capturing images of some of the residents at one of Norwood’s residential homes. “Within the project, I wanted to show the residents in their normal routine, and their natural environments, like their bedrooms or living rooms, to show that they are ‘normal’ and enjoy the same things within their daily life as everyone else. I also took a series of images of the staff members that work with them, which I was part of.”
Helping others is something that is important to Calanit, and she has been inspired to do charitable work by her father, Professor Arie Schachner, the co-founder and president of Save a Child’s Heart, (SACH) and she is involved in working with the Save a Child’s Heart UK (SACH UK) branch to raise awareness. The charity which was originally set up in Israel, but also operates in the UK, has been running for over 20 years, and aims to improve the quality of paediatric care for children from developing countries. The charity is an international humanitarian organisation, and to date, it has helped around 4,500 children with congenital and rheumatic heart disease, from over 50 countries around the world. Construction of the new Children’s Hospital International Paediatric Cardiology unit, has recently started in Israel and it is set to be the first and biggest unit of its kind in the Middle East.
Currently, ‘Save a Child’s Heart UK’ (SACH UK) is led by Chair, Olly Honigman, with SACH UK President, Walter Felman , and Calanit is part of a committee which meets regularly to organise events highlighting the work of the organisation, and encourage fundraising to continue its work. She was involved in an event organised this month, which was held at the House of Lords to raise the profile of the charity, which was hosted by Lord Polak CBE, and included speakers from other international branches of the charity. Calanit also visits schools and synagogues giving talks and presentations about the work that the charity does, and raising awareness. “Save a Child’s Heart is a great family environment to work with, and it is doing some really important and inspiring work to help sick children all over the world. It helps to build bridges between communities regardless of faith, nationality or ability to pay, which is an amazing thing.” She has also helped to facilitate an art exhibition whereby the money from sales of the work from other artists including Liron Kroll, was donated to the charity.
Calanit is very much involved in working within the local Jewish community, and teaches digital photography and night photography courses for beginners and intermediate levels held at various synagogues and centres. The course helps participants to understand more about their camera, and how to control light and composition, and gives them the confidence to try new techniques and approaches to help improve their photography.
Her passion for art and photography has also led her to set up her own business giving Art Gallery Tours and Talks. The tours last around 2 – 2.5 hours and take place in a variety of galleries and explore some of the most interesting and important exhibitions on display, across many of London’s most renowned modern galleries and art spaces. Some of the tours also offer the chance to meet with gallery curators and find out more about the exhibiting artists and the meaning behind the work. “I enjoy being able to help people to understand art, especially contemporary and modern art, and for them to learn the story behind a piece.” The tours are for small groups, families and private tours are also available, and can be delivered in Hebrew or English. As a mother of 3 young children, she has also created children’s gallery tours which she runs during half term holidays in Hebrew and English, which combine creative activities along with touring relevant museums and galleries. “Exposing children to art at a young age is a great way to get them interested. I often test my tours out on my own children, and they really love them, and are developing their own creativity, which is great.”
Calanit hopes that through her tours, and her courses, she is able to help people gain a better knowledge of understanding art, and how to develop their own artistic flair. “I like to pass my knowledge about art to different audiences, and help people to interpret things in different ways. I try to open the visual language to people who may not have had too much contact with art previously, and may feel distant from it. I hope that my tours will ignite a love and passion for art, and everyone that takes the tour gets a lot out of it.”
To find out more about Save a Children’s Heart, visit If you are interested in contacting Calanit about her art tours, please visit