Esther Johnson (MA Royal College of Art) is an artist and filmmaker working with moving image, audio and photography. In 2012 she won the Philip Leverhulme Prize for Performing and Visual Arts for young scholars.
Johnson’s poetic documentary portraits focus on marginal worlds, to reveal resonant stories that may otherwise remain hidden or ignored. Work is concerned 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. 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 her audio works have been broadcast on ABC Australia, BBC Radio 4, Resonance FM and RTÉ radio.
Support for her work has included Arts Council England; Arts and Humanities Research Council; BBC; British Council; Channel 4; Creative Skillset; DCMS; Film London Artists’ Film and Video Award; 14–18 NOW; Heritage Lottery; National Endowment for the Arts, USA; National Lottery; Radio Arts; Science Museum Group; Screen Yorkshire; Sheffield Children’s Festival; Sound and Music; Sound Bank and Yorkshire Arts.
Johnson has curated film and artist moving image programmes for galleries and film festivals, and written for several arts publications. She has delivered film, video, sound and photography workshops in Hull, London, Manchester and Sheffield, UK; and in Bangkok, Thailand and Buffalo, New York. She is Professor of Film and Media Arts in the Art and Design Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University, UK.
Work is held in the special collections of British Artists’ Film and Video Study Collection, Central Saint Martins; Science Museum Group; Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Art Center, Buffalo and Yorkshire Film Archive. Distributors include ARGOS centre for art and media, Brussels and, vtape Toronto.
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