Biography & Artist statement

Esther Teichmann's practice takes us into an alternate orphic world, moving from beds to swamps and caves, from mother to lover, in search of a primordial return. Here, the photographic is loosened from its referent, slipping in and out of darkness, cloaked in dripping inks, bathed in subtle hues, evoking a liquid space of night. Working across the still and moving image, sculpture and painting, narratives emerge from fragments. Like the coral of the Red Sea said to be formed by Medusa’s blood spilled upon seaweed, one thing is transformed into another, sliding between autobiography, fiction and myth, still and moving image. The photographs, films and writings, picture mothers like caves, sisters like seashells, lovers like moons, tears like waterfalls. Entering the octopus darkness of swamps and caves we find ingestion and emission, mother and daughter, sister and sister, black and white, lover and lover, surrealism’s erotic jolt: the irritant that makes the pearl. Seashells with apertures like cameras. The womb as oceanic. Lovers as moons. Holding as withholding. Day as night.

Esther shows and publishes her work internationally, recently collaborating with composer Deirdre Gribbin, writer Carol Mavor and Studio Hato for a solo museum show Heavy the Sea, shown at Transformer Station in Cleveland. Esther co-edited and co-curated the book and exhibition Staging Disorder with artist Christopher Stewart in 2015. In 2021 Teichmann and Stewart received a Wellcome Trust grant to create the film piece, Constellations, featured on an online platform designed by Studio Hato with essays commissioned by the artists. Teichmann is currently working on a monograph of visual works and essays, On Sleeping and Drowning, forthcoming by Stanley/ Barker.

Esther Teichmann calls for a new way to look at photographs, not as mirrors of, or windows into the world, but as portals between the personal and universal, reality and the supernatural and photography and other mediums. Through the layering of memory, desire, fear, fiction and fantasy, Teichmann uses and extends the photographic medium as a passage between realms of experience and artistic creation. Her work exploits the tension between photography’s relationship to reality and a sense of otherworldly power. For Teichmann, this complex, even troubled relationship with the medium yields a passionate foray into others. Jessica Brier

Teichmann's utopian island-world lies somewhere between black and blue seas, between here and now and the fantasy of where one might go, or perhaps, even, where one has been. Carol Mavor

Teichmann received an MA, 2005 and PhD, 2012 in Fine Art from the Royal College of Art and is Head of Programme for the Master of Research Programme at the RCA. Prior to this, Esther was a guest professor at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco 2012/2013 and was Senior Lecture at the University of the Arts London from 2009 - 2018.

Esther lives and works in Ely, Cambridgeshire and London, with her partner, artist Christopher Stewart and their daughters (aged 2 and 17). Their studios and library occupy the ground floor of the family home, a medieval 16thC Grade II listed building overlooking Ely Cathedral, that was a ceramics studio and gallery for the past several decades.