Esther Johnson's film Asunder at the Barbican and on tour
Wednesday 11 January 2017
ASUNDER – The Story of an English Town in the First World War
72-minute poetic documentary film by artist and filmmaker Esther Johnson
'a fascinating kaleidoscope' Chronicle ★★★★★
'very special indeed' Living North
'Asunder casts its spell' Sunderland Echo
12 February 2017. Barbican, Milton Court Concert Hall, London, 20:00, Performance with Live Music.
20 February 2017. HOME, Manchester, plus Q&A with Esther Johnson and Bob Stanley, 18:20
Community Film Screenings:
18 January 2017 Back on the Map Community Centre Hendon, Sunderland 14:00
“… and then all the world began to roar.”
Asunder tells the story of what happened to an English town during the First World War, with almost all of its men fighting abroad and its women and children left behind. The North East was on the front line, thanks to its shipyards and munitions factories.
Using archive and contemporary footage and audio, Asunder collages the stories of people from Tyneside and Wearside to uncover just what life was like on the home front, with bombs falling on Britain for the first time, conscientious objectors sentenced to death, and women working as doctors, tram conductors and footballers. The narrative moves from an Edwardian golden era, in which sport grew in popularity and aircraft and cars pointed to a bright new future, to a war that horrifically reversed this progress. In the Battle of the Somme, British, French and German armies fought one of the most traumatic battles in military history. Over the course of just four months, more than one million soldiers were captured, wounded or killed in a confrontation of unimaginable horror.
A film by Esther Johnson with a soundtrack composed by Sunderland’s Mercury-nominated Field Music and Newcastle’s Warm Digits, performed with the Royal Northern Sinfonia and The Cornshed Sisters. The narration for the film is voiced by journalist Kate Adie, with the actor Alun Armstrong as the voice of the Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette.
ASUNDER is co-commissioned by Sunderland Cultural Partnership and 14–18 NOW: WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, supported by The National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Sunderland Business Improvement District, Culture Bridge North East and Sir James Knott Trust.
Esther Johnson (MA Royal College of Art) is an artist and filmmaker working at the intersection of artist moving image and documentary portraiture. www.blanchepictures.com. She is a Reader in Media Arts at Sheffield Hallam University.