I am an artist and filmmaker working with moving image, audio and photography. I was awarded an MA from the Royal College of Art, London, and am a Fellow of The Higher Education Academy. In 2012 I won the Philip Leverhulme Prize for Visual and Performing Arts for young scholars.
Work is made for exhibition, cinema screening and broadcast through individual projects, commissions and residencies, and has been exhibited internationally in over 40 countries.
My work is held in the special collections of British Artists’ Film and Video Study Collection, Central Saint Martins; Science Museum Group; Squeaky Wheel Film and Media Art Center, Buffalo and Yorkshire Film Archive. Distributors include ARGOS centre for art and media, Brussels and vtape, Toronto.
I am an artist and filmmaker working with moving image, audio and photography. I was awarded an MA from the Royal College of Art, London and am a Fellow of The Higher Education Academy. In 2012 I won the Philip Leverhulme Prize for Visual and Performing Arts for young scholars.
My documentary portraits foster an engagement with the effects of progress and societal change on communities, and how the universal impacts on the individual. Projects include socially-engaged work that draws upon oral testimony, experience and politics – this work takes the form of portraits that focus on marginal worlds to reveal resonant stories that may otherwise remain hidden or ignored. Recurring themes include social narratives, personal histories, memory and testament, heritage, folklore, regeneration, and exploration of architectural vernaculars and the inhabited environment.
Work is made for exhibition, cinema screening and broadcast through individual projects, commissions and residencies, and has been exhibited internationally in over 40 countries. Screening and exhibition includes Barbican, London; BFI London Film Festival; CPH:DOX, Copenhagen; ICA, London; Hull 2017; International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam; Istanbul Biennial; Kassel Documentary Film and Video Festival, Germany; Landscape Institute; NASA, California; Sheffield Doc/Fest; Tate Britain and Tate Modern, London. Film works have been shown on BBC and Channel 4, and audio works have been broadcast on ABC Australia, BBC Radio 4, Resonance FM and RTÉ radio.
Support for my work has included 14–18 NOW; Arts Council England; Arts and Humanities Research Council; BBC; British Council; Channel 4; Creative Skillset; DCMS; Film London Artists’ Film and Video Award; Film and Video Umbrella; Heritage Lottery; National Endowment for the Arts, USA; National Lottery; Radio Arts; Science Museum Group; Screen Yorkshire; Sheffield Children’s Festival; Sound Bank; Sound and Music; Sunderland Cultural Partnership; The Leverhulme Trust and Yorkshire Arts.
I have curated film and artist moving image programmes for galleries and film festivals, and written for several arts publications. Work is held in the special collections of British Artists’ Film and Video Study Collection, Central Saint Martins; Science Museum Group; Squeaky Wheel Film and Media Art Center, Buffalo and Yorkshire Film Archive. Distributors include ARGOS centre for art and media, Brussels and vtape, Toronto.
I lecture on documentary and artists' moving image, and lead the Professional Contexts in Film and Media module on BA Film and Media Production. In addition to being Principal Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam, I have delivered workshops in film, photography and audio at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok; Squeaky Wheel and University of Buffalo, New York; and at galleries, museums and higher-education colleges in Hull, Leeds, London, Manchester and Sheffield.
Film and Media Production
Professional Contexts in Film and Media
Experimental Film and Video
2017 – Retreating the Line – Audio-visual installation – supported by Arts Council England, Hull 2017 and Film and Video Umbrella http://blanchepictures.com/retreating-the-line
2016 – Asunder – Poetic Documentary Feature Film and live music event with Field Music, Warm Digits, Royal Northern Sinfonia and The Cornshed Sisters – commissioned by 14-18 NOW and Sunderland Cultural Partnership http://asunder1916.uk http://blanchepictures.com/asunder
2014–2016 – By Which We Live Our Lives – Audio-visual installation in collaboration with Sonja Lillebaek Christensen – funded by CPH: DOX, Copenhagen http://blanchepictures.com/by-which-we-live-our-lives
2014–2016 – Echoes of Protest – Audio-visual project in collaboration with Debbie Ballin – supported by the Art and Design Research Centre; People’s History Museum, Manchester; and the National Coal Mining Museum for England in Wakefield http://echoes-of-protest.weebly.com http://blanchepictures.com/echoes-of-protest
2015 – Alone Together, the Social Life of Benches – creative documentary – supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council http://the-bench-project.weebly.com/research.html http://blanchepictures.com/alone-together
- 14-18 NOW
- Arts Council England
- Arts and Humanities Research Council
- British Council
- Channel 4
- Creative Skillset
- Film London Artists’ Film and Video Award
- Film and Video Umbrella
- Heritage Lottery
- National Endowment for the Arts, USA
- National Lottery
- Radio Arts
- Science Museum Group
- Screen Yorkshire
- Sheffield Children’s Festival
- Sound Bank
- Sound and Music
- Sunderland Cultural Partnership
- The Leverhulme Trust
- Yorkshire Arts
JOHNSON, Esther (2017). Alone together – documentary filmmaking as a means to convey sensitive stories of wellbeing in outdoor spaces. In: COLES, Richard, COSTA, Sandra and WATSON, Sharon, (eds.) Co-creating pathways to wellbeing. Abingdon, Routledge.
JOHNSON, Esther and BALLIN, Debbie (2016). Echoes of protest: untold stories of the 1984–1985 UK Miners’ Strike. Oral History Society Journal, Spring (2017). (In Press)
JOHNSON, Esther (2016). Alone Together, the Social Life of Benches: how filmmaking can help to tell detailed and nuanced stories about encounters, exclusion and wellbeing in outdoor spaces. In: COLES, Richard, COSTA, Sandra and WATSON, Sharon, (eds.) Well-being 2016 : Co-creating Pathways to Well-being. Birmingham, Birmingham City University, 206-209.
JOHNSON, Esther and BALLIN, Debbie (2016). The People's Echo. Memories of the 1984-8 Miners' Strike Christmas 2016. Other. Artists and National Coal Mining Museum for England.
JOHNSON, Esther (2016). Alone together, the social life of benches : how filmmaking can help to tell detailed and nuanced stories about encounters, exclusion and wellbeing in outdoor spaces. In: Well-being 2016, Co-creating Pathways to Well-being, Birmingham City University, 5-6 September 2016.
BALLIN, Deborah and JOHNSON, Esther (2016). Voices from the strike. In: ALLSOP, D, STEPHENSON, Carol and WRAY, David, (eds.) The Miners’ Strike: the people, the controversies and the consequences. London, Merlin Press. (In Press)
JOHNSON, Esther and WILLIAMS, David (2009). Transfixed Motion | Transistory Still: SIA Gallery 03 April 2009–18 April 2009 Curated by Esther Johnson and David Williams. Sheffield Institute of Arts Gallery, Sheffield Hallam University.
JOHNSON, Esther (2008). Teenage Wildlife Vidéothèque: Site Gallery 28 June-09 August 2008. Sheffield, Site Gallery.
Member of BECTU
Member of the Oral History Society
Supervisor - Documentary filmmaking practice-based PhD – commenced – 2017
Supervisor - Photography practice-based PhD – ‘The Transient Landscapes of Forced Migration: Identity, Memory and Emotional Trauma’ – commenced – 2016
Areas of interest for PhD supervision
- Archive film
- Audio-visual explorations of architecture, space and landscape
- Depictions of campaign and protest
- Documentary portraiture
- Engaging communities in active, iterative and participatory research methods for the telling of personal narratives
- Enquiries into obsolete technology
- Ethnography and Anthropological filmmaking
- Intersections of artists' film and video and documentary
- Oral history and the archive
- Poetic radio documentary
- Representation of hobbies, leisure and spare time
- Representations and ethics of testimony
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