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A Journey, 2013. Ceramic, wood and thread. Courtesy the artist.

Migration, 2011. Ceramic. Courtesy the artist. Photograph by Marcus Svensson.

When she walked, her tears made the roads turn red, 2013. Ceramic and paper. Courtesy the artist.

Remembering the mountains, 2013. Glass. Courtesy the artist. Photograph by Sylvain Deleu.

Camouflage/camp (detail from Journeys), 2015. Ceramic and found objects. Courtesy the artist. Photograph by Patrik Zettergren.

The German word Zugunruhe, (from Zug - to move, migrate and Unruhe - anxiety, restlessness) can be used to sum up the ideas behind Ester Svensson’s work. It is used to describe the restlessness of migratory birds before and during their period of migration, but the same phenomenon can be seen in resident birds and animals. Humans can also experience this restlessness, this yearning.

Although Swedish, Ester was born in Pakistan, and her childhood was split between the two countries. She continues to travel, and is currently based in London. This background affects the styles, aesthetics and themes of her practice, as do the landscapes, cultures and folklore of the places she has lived in and travelled through. Migration, belonging, multi-layered identities and home are recurring themes in her work, as well as increasing concern for the situation refugees and migrants currently find themselves in. Working predominantly with clay, Ester creates small-scale sculptures and installations. Before ceramics, she studied illustration, so narratives and drawing continue to play a big role in her practice.

During the residency, Ester will continue to look at migration; how it affects our identities; what we bring as outsiders, what we absorb as residents and how one can be a foreigner in one’s country of birth. She will build a visual reference library, explore the use of other materials, hold workshops, and investigate talismans, symbols and traditions relating to travel and migration.


Vasl is an artist-led organisation established in 1999, in Karachi, as a platform for dynamic Pakistani art and contemporary Pakistani artists and as a space to host artists’ workshops, residencies and exhibitions.