Creative Arts


Dr Johanna Hӓllsten

Photo of Dr Johanna Hӓllsten

Lecturer in Fine Art

Dr Johanna Hällsten is a Lecturer in Fine Art, contributing extensively to teaching on the BA(Hons) Fine Art course and the PhD programme. Johanna originally studied printmaking at Grafikskolan i Stockholm, Sweden before moving to the UK and completing a PhD at Staffordshire University in 2004, expanding the understanding of the uncanny experience in contemporary installation art. The PhD was part practice, part philosophy, and her practice continues to traverse these fields.

Johanna’s current practice/research is situated within, and tests, the boundaries between environmental aesthetics, soundscape studies, music and philosophies concerning translation, space, duration and movement. She is interested in the perpetual cycle of translation between words and speech, speech and the visual, visual and auditory, auditory and words and so on: where interpretation systems are being unraveled and reassembled again. It is interdisciplinary in nature and she often works collaboratively.

I contribute to all levels of the Fine Art programme, and currently supervise a Masters student on the MA in Graphic Design & Communication programme. Further to this I supervise several PhD students, and have extensive experience of PhD supervision and examination.

Johanna’s recent practice has focused on relationships between sound, movement, composition and the cultural aspects of place. The voice has taken a primary role in these new works; where performativity and the translation of existing compositions/systems alter the sonic landscape. Together with this investigations into how movement and sound create space(s), and how these spaces in turn create social encounters within the human and animal world, have been a main focus for some time, and continue to stimulate intersections between architecture, rural and urban environments and responsive works. 

Recent projects include:

“Re-Imagining Citizenship”, LU Arts (2018), “Translation Zone(s): Constellations Hong Kong” (2018), “Tactics of Interruption”, ArtsAdmin, London (2016), “Sound and the Urban Environment”, ONCA Gallery, Brighton (2015), “Calls from Blethenal Green” St John’s on Bethnal Green, London (2013), “Everyday Material” Binaural/Nodar, Portugal (2012), “A Regency Utopia” Royal Pavilion, Brighton (2011), ANTI festival, Kuopio, Finland (2010), EV+A, Limerick, Ireland (2010), “Trying to cope with things that aren’t human (Part One)” San Francisco, Stoke-on-Trent and London (2009), amongst others. 

Publications include:

“Sounding site: listening, mingling, index and reciprocity in the field”, Unlikely - Journal for the Creative Arts, co-authored C Clover & S L Jones (2016); “Sonic Movements: Spatial Reflexivity”, EUP journal 'Somatechnics' special issue 'The Somatechnics of Movement' (2014) “Sonic movements: in-between the floorboards” in Korkea Taivas edited by Y. Sepänmaa, Finland (2012); “Public Gardens and the State of Site-specific Contemporary Art” & “Wuhan Gardens and City: a practical exploration of ‘site’ and ‘engagement’” in The Front Edge of Environmental Aesthetics China (2010), “Sounds Like It: a cross-cultural conversation” in in.Paradoxa – international feminist art journal (2007), “Movement and Participation: Journeys within everyday environments” in Contemporary Aesthetics (2005).

Current PhD supervisions include:

  • Rebecca Birch: Video Encounters Through a Lichen Covered Stick, co-supervised with Dr. Gillian Whiteley
  • Ben Fitton: Vis-à-Vis the Relations of Production: the Idea of Site Specific Art, co-supervised with Dr. Gillian Whiteley
  • Zoë Peterson: Networking Eden Practising the Commons with a Housing Estate Gardening Group, co-supervised with Dr. Gillian Whiteley & Dr. Eleanor Morgan
  • Sue Warner: Community Art and the Critical Citizen, co-supervised with Dr. Gillian Whiteley

Completed PhD supervisions include:

  • Dr. Myfanwyn Ryan: Matrilineal Performance-To-Camera: Exploring Maternal Aesthetics and the Frame [2018]
  • Dr. Melanie Jordan: Art, its function and its publics: public sphere theory in the work of the Freee art collective 2004 – 2010 [2015]
  • Dr. Conohar Scott:  The photographer as environmental activist: politics, ethics and beauty in the struggle for environmental remediation [2015]
  • Dr. Heather Connelly: Speaking through the voice of another - The Experience of Translation [2015]
  • Dr. Veronica West: What Children Make of Things & What Artists Make of Them[externally supervised (Staffordshire University), 2013].
  • Dr. Fabia Lin: Doubling the Duality: a Theoretical and Practical Investigation into Materiality and the Embodiment of Meaning in the Integration of Live Action and Animation [2013]
  • Dr. Robert Ward: The Hunting of the Duckrabbit: In Pursuit of an Aesthetics of Knowledge [2011]