Our tour of our installation scheduled for 2020 and funded by Creative Scotland  has now had to be postponed due to COVID-19 virus

We are planning to reschedule with all the venues on Shetland and mainland Scotland for 2021. 

3 screens a


Confusing shadow with substance is a collaborative project by artists Jo Millett and Janette Kerr investigating a historic form of fishing in Shetland.

View from top of the Stenness beachStenness beach 2016  (photo: J. Kerr)

Concentrating on a particular fishing station at Stenness in Northmavine,  the artists worked with local residents, archives and museums, investigating the traces of a once thriving industry.  Interested in the journey from the fishing station beach to the far haaf, they have used video, film and sound to re-imagine events and activities on shore and sea.  The three screen video and sound installation was shown in Shetland Museum and Archives in July and August 2017.

1878 stenness map 1 Map of Stenness, Northmavine, Shetland 1878

boat&shore.JPEGStenness beach Shetland Museum and Archives Photo Library

Janette Kerr has created a project blog which follows the progress of producing and installing the work.   There was also a substantial amount of research prior to this period, some detailed here.

Read a further description of the project:  http://www.landscaperesearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Poised-between-land-and-far-haaf_Janette-Kerr.pdf

A longer article: Poised between land and far haaf, can be read in New Shetlander No 281 2017, Voluntary Action, Shetland

The project was supported with a grant from Creative Scotland, by the Shetland Museum and Archives, and in-kind support from Shetland Arts.  We are very grateful to all who volunteered to help us and especially to Rob Gawthrop who recorded and edited the audio for us.


About the installation

lerwick installation

In Confusing shadow with substance the video and sound loops, with no start or end.  Each video screen loops independently of the other and because each are different lengths, juxtapositions of images alter.  The sound is independent of the images, so again there is a variation in what images are seen together with the sound heard.  The sound consists of 4 separate channels, with four speakers, voices come from different corners of the room – sometimes behind, sometimes from all 4 speakers at once.  Moving around the space gives the listener a changing experience.   Sounds of the sea, oars pulling the sixareen through the water, the strains of a fiddle playing somewhere, together with sea birds and Shetland voices reading archive texts fill the room at times.  In the Shetland Museum and Archives exhibition, (see image above) the three video screens give a 9 metre width of images.


We used a variety of cameras to produce the work, transferred to HD video. There is a range of moving image material, which together with the archive photos and documents within the work purposefully gives a multiplicity of material images to read. The 16mm film, the video and black and white images of the 19th century and so on, all have their own material qualities, which in juxtaposition can contest each other as to the authority of each image.


IMG_2222Sound was recorded separately, and mainly on the Stenness site by artist Rob Gawthrop. We asked people to read archive texts on the beach as a way of returning to and connecting with the past activities in that place.  In one book we found a description of a bell rung to mark commencement and cessation of work on the beach, so borrowed one from the museum and made recordings on the beach, and similarly the ludder horn – used to warn boats in fog.  We also made recordings of and from the sixareen boat taken out in the harbour in Lerwick.

IMG_2204Documentation in cases showed copies of 19thC photographs and facsimile documents from the Shetland Museum & Archives (see the research pages for copies of these), borrowing the Day Book from Tangwick Haa Museum Collection.






Video documentation:  video

Installation technical information

Audience feedback from the exhibition in Shetland Museum and Archives

Video documentation

documentation of the installation in Da Gadderie, Shetland Museum and Archives, Lerwick, summer 2017



3 screen image

Email:  millett.joatgooglemail.com  or  janettekerr2atgmail.com