Esther Johnson (MA, Royal College of Art) is an artist and filmmaker working at the intersection of artist moving image and documentary. Her poetic film portraits focus on marginal worlds, to reveal resonant stories that may otherwise remain hidden or ignored. Recurring themes include personal histories, heritage, tradition, folklore, regeneration, and exploration of architectural vernaculars and the inhabited environment. Projects include Alone Together: the Social Life of Benches, Chalk Trace, Analogue Kingdom and It’s Quicker by Hearse: The Tale of the Petitioning Housewife, the Protesting Schoolboy and the Campaign Trail Student. In 2012 she won the Philip Leverhulme Prize for Performing and Visual Arts for young scholars.
Her work has been exhibited internationally including at BFI London Film Festival; CPH:Dox, Copenhagen; ICA, London; NASA, California; International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam; Istanbul Biennial; Kassel Documentary Film and Video Festival; and Tate Britain and Tate Modern, London. Her 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. Johnson is Professor of Film and Media Arts in the Art and Design Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University.
CO-PRODUCER AND WRITER
Bob Stanley is a musician, journalist, author, and film producer, and founder member of the pop group Saint Etienne. As a film maker, he has collaborated with director Paul Kelly on a series of films about London (Finisterre, What Have You Done Today Mervyn Day, This is Tomorrow, How We Used to Live), on both script writing and music, as well as producing a series of short films. He is the co-author of Match Day: Football Programmes, Post War to the Premiership. As a music writer, he initially wrote for New Musical Express and Smash Hits in 1987, and his work has since appeared in The Face, Mojo, The New Statesman, The Times and The Guardian, for whom he is a regular contributor. His widely acclaimed book Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop covers the history of pop music from the 1950s to 2000, and is published by Faber and Faber. Stanley is currently working on a book covering the birth of popular music. He divides his time between London and West Yorkshire.
COMPOSERS AND MUSICIANS
Field Music are led by Sunderland brothers Peter and David Brewis. Working from their own studio on the banks of the Wear, they have recorded and released somewhere between five and fourteen albums (depending on how you count) since their self-titled debut in 2005. These include the 2016 Commontime, the Mercury-nominated Plumb and a score to the seminal 1929 documentary Drifters, as well as various solo albums, collaborations, productions and compilations. Field Music have toured across the UK, Europe and North America. They recently made their debut appearance on Later … with Jools Holland. For this project the brothers were joined by third founding member, Andrew Moore, and by current touring member, Liz Corney.
Warm Digits are the duo from the North of England that, in the words of legendary DJ/ producer Andrew Weatherall, create ‘Machine funk kraut-a-delia – it’s rather lovely!’ Warm Digits wear their influences on their sleeves, their live drums, guitar and electronics betraying a love of Neu!, Kraftwerk, Giorgio Moroder, My Bloody Valentine and Boards Of Canada. Motorik percussion, electronic basslines, Keith Levene-style guitar chops and squelchy analog warmth are accompanied by live visuals in performances that have graced the Psych Fests of both London and Liverpool, seen them support the likes of Goblin, Modeselektor, ESG, Saint Etienne, Moon Duo and many more, toured the UK with British Sea Power and blown the audience away at Supersonic and many other festivals.
As Rock-A-Rolla magazine put it, Warm Digits’ music is built on ‘such classic acquainted tones that they absolutely must have been made in Germany in the early 1970s and yet others embody everything progressive about modern day electronic music’.
They return to Marc Riley’s BBC 6Music studio in October for another live session and have a number of festival and live appearances lined up through the rest of this year. After releasing their second full album Interchange in 2013 (and their collaborative EP with Field Music in 2012), Warm Digits are currently putting the finishing touches to their third album, which will hopefully appear towards the end of 2016.
Royal Northern Sinfonia, Orchestra of Sage Gateshead, is the UK’s only full-time chamber orchestra and the leading professional orchestra in the North East. Since its inception in 1958, it has built a distinctive reputation as a fresh-thinking and versatile orchestra, performing with a trademark zest and stylistic virtuosity. It is the only UK orchestra to have a purpose-built home for all its rehearsals, concerts and recordings.
Playing a wide repertoire of diverse orchestral music, Royal Northern Sinfonia works regularly with a roster of globally renowned artists from all genres. They have also collaborated with leading popular voices such as Sting, Ben Folds and John Grant. The orchestra contributes to the continuing re-invention of orchestral repertoire with regular commissions and premieres, most recently from Benedict Mason and David Lang, John Casken and Kathryn Tickell.
Open in its approach and broad in its reach, Royal Northern Sinfonia engages audiences and communities throughout its own region as well as further afield, with residencies at festivals from Aldeburgh to Hong Kong, as well as regularly featuring in the BBC Proms and neighbouring Edinburgh Festival. Back home at Sage Gateshead, Royal Northern Sinfonia works with adults of all ages and young people, through the Young Musicians Programme and In Harmony project, both of which provide unbeatable instrumental learning opportunities.
The Cornshed Sisters are Jennie, Cath, Liz and Marie. Less alike than these four peas you have never seen in the same pod. They live and work in Tyne and Wear.
Drawing on a palette of vocals, assorted guitars, ukulele and piano they convey these ideas with sensitivity and humour. Their four distinctive yet sympathetic voices range far and wide, recalling the emotive tangles of The Band as often as the choral elegance of The Roches yet sung and arranged in their own distinctly English manner.
The Cornshed Sisters' debut album Tell Tales was recorded and co-produced with Peter Brewis at Field Music's studio on the banks of the Wear with minimal overdubs, capturing the Sisters in all their dynamic glory. The ladies tackled songs about waterbabies (Tommy), marriage, men in sequined suits (Dance At My Wedding), gardening (If You Were Mine), soothsayers (The Beekeeper), making pies out of people (Pies for the Fair) and the axis of love and bombs (Dresden). And, there was some unusual stuff too. Although unified in their musical tastes, as songwriters and interpreters The Cornshed Sisters display a healthy disregard for unity of subject matter.