Original article The Guardian, 19th October, 2016


The photographer wanted to retell the Youth Without Age, Life Without Death story, about a prince going on a doomed quest after being promised eternal life

Heaven & Cyanide

In Laura Pannack’s photo series Youth Without Age, Life Without Death, an old Romanian folk tale gets retold in a series of mysterious images. The series is on show atFrancesca Maffeo Gallery, Leigh-on-Sea, 22 October to 23 December. All photographs: Laura Pannack

The Offering, they got

used to each other bit by


Pannack brought the work together over four years, shot entirely in rural Romania

Lunar Forest

‘This project is a response to my need to escape, adventure and roam in reaction to internal pressure I feel that time is moving too fast. Hours, days and weeks pass and I can’t recall them and it frightens me ,’ Pannack says. ‘The purple evening sunlight and untouched scenery are an escapism and a perfect visual language to match any fairytale’

Then the sisters made

their guest and his horse

known to all the wild


In the folk tale, after taking herbs from a local wise man to cure her barrenness, an emperor and empress have a son

Long life, master. At your


The son won’t stop crying after he is born, until the emperor promises him ‘youth without age, life without death’

The way was long and

even longer

When the boy is 15, he demands his father fulfil his promise – after being told it is impossible, he vows to wander the earth until it comes to pass

If humans being can,

we’ll have to fly

Paired with a magical talking horse, he encounters a woodpecker fairy and a scorpion witch on his quest

He stuck to his word like

a rock


He ends up in a wondrous kingdom and is married to a beautiful fairy – but accidentally steps into the Valley of Sadness, and is consumed with homesickness

Every little corner that

brought to mind all

things past


He returns to his home kingdom, to find it in ruins, himself suddenly massively aged, and – spoiler alert – he dies and crumbles into dust

The next day, when the

dawn poured forth


Pannack won a World Press Photo award in 2010, and has had work exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery, Somerset House and the Royal Festival Hall

The way was long and

even longer


Youth Without Age, Life Without Death is the first in a series of works Pannack is planning across the Balkans, each framed around a different folk tale