An immersive three-screen video and sound installation exploring Shetland’s ‘haaf’ (deep sea) fishing stations of the 18th and 19th centuries has opened at the Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine in southwest Scotland.

The collaborative project, Confusing Shadow with Substance, by artists Janette Kerr and Jo Millett, unravels the islands’ relationship with the sea and the past by 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 can also enjoy artworks evoking coastal life in working harbours and fishing villages around Scotland, drawn from the Scottish Maritime Museum’s new national art collection, that are on show alongside the installation.

Nicola Scott, exhibitions and events officer at the Scottish Maritime Museum, said: “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 or ‘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.”

Artists Janette Kerr and Jo Millett said: “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.”

Confusing Shadow with Substance runs until Sunday, 20 February.

Advance booking is required. For tickets and exhibition news, click here.

This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here


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