Esther Johnson (MA Royal College of Art) is an artist and filmmaker working at the intersection of artist moving image and documentary. She is former recipient of the Philip Leverhulme Research Prize for Performing and Visual Arts, and is Professor of Film and Media Arts in the Art and Design Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University.
Esther’s poetic portraits focus on alternative social histories and marginal worlds, to reveal resonant stories that may otherwise remain hidden or ignored. Recurring themes include social narratives, personal histories, notions of testament and memory, heritage, folklore, regeneration, and exploration of architectural vernaculars and the inhabited environment.
Projects include socially engaged work that draws on oral testimony, experience and politics to look at how the universal impacts on the individual. Other works have repositioned archival material as a way of addressing the relationship between history, memory and storytelling.
Work is made for exhibition, cinema screening and broadcast through individual projects, commissions and residencies.
Projects include: DUST & METAL (in-production in Vietnam), ASUNDER, a ROLE to PLAY, Alone Together: the Social Life of Benches, Chalk Trace, The View From My Window, and Analogue Kingdom.
Films have been exhibited internationally in 40+ countries including at BFI London Film Festival; CPH:Dox, Copenhagen; Hull 2017; ICA, London; Landscape Institute, London; NASA, California; International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam; Istanbul Biennial; Sheffield Doc/Fest; True/False, Missouri; Walsall New Art Gallery; and Tate galleries. Work has broadcast on BBC and Channel 4, with audio works 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; animate projects; BBC; British Council; Channel 4; Craignish Trust and Alchemy Film Festival; Creative Skillset; DCMS; Film London Artists’ Film and Video Award; 14–18 NOW; Heritage Lottery; Hull 2017; James Reckitt Library Trust; Jerwood Arts; 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.
Esther has written for several arts and culture publications, has worked as an independent film/video curator, and has delivered time-based media workshops in the UK and internationally.
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 audiovisual arts, Brussels and, vtape Toronto.