fbpx skip to Main Content


Confusing Shadow with Substance Tour arrives at the Scottish Maritime Museum 

Saturday 22 January – Sunday 20 February 2022

A new immersive three screen video and sound installation exploring Shetland’s once thriving but now elusive haaf (deep sea) fishing stations of the 18th and 19th centuries is now open at the Scottish Maritime Museum on Irvine Harbourside tomorrow.

A collaborative project by artists Janette Kerr and Jo Millett, Confusing Shadow with Substance unravels the archipelago’s relationship with the sea and the past, fusing together archival materials and the voices of the people of Shetland, with recordings and film made on the beach and on, and under, the sea.

Visitors will also enjoy the added draw of artworks evoking coastal life in working harbours and fishing villages around Scotland drawn from the Scottish Maritime Museum’s new national art collection on show alongside the installation.

The four week run at the Scottish Maritime Museum begins the Confusing Shadow with Substance national tour.

Nicola Scott, Exhibitions and Events Officer at the Scottish Maritime Museum, explains:

We are delighted to host Janette Kerr and Jo Millett’s exciting artistic collaboration, Confusing Shadow with Substance. 

Shetland fisherman Davie Smith uses the phrase ‘confusing shadow with substance’ to describe past navigation techniques of fishermen who used local landmarks called ‘meids’ and the ‘Moder Dy’ or ‘mother wave’, an underlying swell of the sea, to plot their way.”

“Janette and Jo similarly navigate the traces – tangible and intangible – of Stenness fishing station in Northmavine, Shetland, where hundreds of men worked and lived in makeshift booths and böds for the summer months in the 18th and 19th centuries, yet little is left for the eye to make out today to create a thought-provoking experience.”

Confusing Shadow with Substance artists Janette Kerr and Jo Millett add:

Poised between land and far haaf, the shoreline draws us to the sea, a constant presence in a world of embedded memory.

Our work weaves together contemporary and historical images, Shetland voices and sounds, in an installation which allows the audience to reflect on and consider the interplay between that which is gone, that which remains and that which drifts between the two.”

Janette Kerr is a successful painter of Shetland seas shown widely in the UK and abroad and who has worked on residencies in the UK, Norway and, more recently, the High Arctic.

Jo Millett is an experienced moving image and sound artist who has shown widely in the UK and beyond and who also completed a PhD relating to moving image and the sea in 2013.

The making of Confusing Shadow with Substance and the national tour have been funded by Creative Scotland.

The Confusing Shadow with Substance tour is also supported by the Scottish Maritime Museum, The Elephant Trust, Scottish Fisheries Museum and Whalsay Heritage Museum.

Confusing Shadow with Substance is included in Museum admission.

Back To Top
Skip to content