In Summer 2017 I collaborated with moving image and sound artist Jo Millett, with help from sound artist Rob Gawthrop and the support of Shetland Museum and Archives, and local people, to create the installation 'Confusing shadow with substance'. Funded by Creative Scotland.
"Our approach considers the sea as neither inert substance, nor neutral space, and examines the close relationship between land and sea particular to the locality".
Investigating the traces - tangible and intangible - of a once thriving fishing station at Stenness, Northmavine, Shetland, where hundreds of men worked and lived for the summer months in the 18th and 19th centuries, Confusing shadow with substance examines the relationship between past and present and the interplay of land, sea and human activity at the site of one of Shetland’s busiest former fishing stations. The material remains of the Stenness station are elusive today, yet the more we explore the landscape, the more its traces are revealed.
The resulting three screen video and sound installation, looping continuously with images and sounds, navigates between distance and nearness, permanence and transience. Poised between land and far haaf, the shoreline draws us to the sea, a constant presence in a world of embedded memory. Weaving together contemporary and historical images, Shetland voices merge with the sea, drawing breath with the tide. The work is concerned with the interplay between that which is gone, that which remains and that which drifts between the two.
The installation was shown during the summer 2017 at Shetland Museum in Da Gadderi, Lerwick. We have planned a tour of the work to be shown in Scotland and outlying areas across Shetland, having secured further funding from Creative Scotland - this was to have taken place in 202 but has been postponed to 2021 due to the Coronavirus.
(Confusing shadow with substance’ is a phrase used by local fisherman Davey Smith, describing the process of direction-finding and use of local landmarks called ‘meids’ to aid navigation).
For more information see:
Terminalia - ‘Walking the Invisible - February 2020
A short walk of any distance from 5 paces to 50 kilometres that takes place along an invisible boundary’, celebrated on February 23rd, the last day of the Roman year. This walk was carried
out in Skagaströnd, Iceland along an edge between sea and land; a liminal place - a threshold and place of flux, where the sea enters and flows across the land and then receeds. At this time of year there is constant change with ice forming and melting and flowing into the sea. . A liminal space is a place of transition, of waiting and not knowing, between what was and what will become
The results are on my Blog:
Plus there are links on this site: http://artworks.eu.com/wordpress/terminalia-project/
Landlinks/Groundwork: The Walk March 2020
On 22nd March I took part in a synchronised walk. The project's aim was to observe and respond to changing landscapes, artists walking and studying the landscape in randomly chosen places/landscapes on the same day and the same time; to walk and record using multi-discipline art forms. The exhibition’s aim was to avoid 'attachment' to subjects that are 'interesting' or 'beautiful' and to leave that choice to chance.
Two days before I went out to make this project I was in Iceland in a snowstorm; then suddenly I was back in the UK on the Mendips trying to come to terms with the situation created by the pandemic, and stuck in Somerset unable to get back to my house in Shetland. I found myself out walking, never having been to this location before, with no idea what I would find. I tried to think myself into the place; spent quite a lot of the time lying on the ground, crawling about looking and photographing things that are often unnoticed, hidden in undergrowth, and recording sound. Negotiating the terrain - climbing over and under fallen trees, losing the path, scrambling up slippery banks, and getting tangled in bracken and brambles. Just sitting listening and writing notes about what I could see/feel/smell/hear.
Having combined my images with my field recordings of natural sounds, I then asked sound artist Michael Fairfax to respond to these. So it became a sort of collaboration; the resulting sound track gives the piece an unsettling edge – alluding to the fear that hovers in the background despite the beauty around us - the fear of not knowing what the next few months – years - hold for us all. This is a link to the piece I made: https://vimeo.com/432160454
Here is a link to an interview about my response to the project and work I made: http://groundworks.org.uk/wp/in-conversation-with-janette-kerr/
All the resulting material will be shown on the internet and at a later date exhibited... as and when possible.
See also: http://www.michaelfairfax.co.uk/