'A Scale of Time' (2012) Jeremy Millar

'A Scale of Time' (2012) Jeremy Millar

Artist Jeremy Millar unveils new film at Devon museum

By New Expressions

15 March 2012

’Theatrical and unusual’ work inspired by Victorian scientific curiosity

Jeremy Millar has unveiled his new artist’s film at a Devon museum this week. ‘A Scale of Time’ is inspired by the founding of a Literary and Scientific Institution in Barnstaple in Devon in 1845. This would become the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon, which has commissioned the film for its latest exhibition, ‘And Curiouser…’. Described by the artist as a ‘performance film’, the project is part of New Expressions – a programme to build a culture of collaboration between contemporary artists and museums in South West England.

Jeremy Millar is an artist living in Whitstable, a tutor at the Royal College of Art and associate artist at Kettle’s Yard. His recent solo exhibitions include shows at the CCA in Glasgow and the Ethnographic Museum, Krakow.

In developing the work, Millar explored the museum’s collection of scientific instruments, models and unidentified objects, inherited from the Literary and Scientific Institute.

The 20-minute film was shot in the attic space of the factory building of historic Barnstaple manufacturing firm Shapland and Petter, with students from Petroc college acting as performers.

Simple and elegant movement of performers and camera is mirrored in a musical score, written especially for the film by composer Sophie Sirota, who also wrote the score for Millar’s 2010 work, ‘The Writing of Stones’.

Millar says: ‘The actions of the performers are at once both simple and ambiguous, a series of stylised movements that seem to mark out space, or time, even if their purpose is not immediately obvious. In their repetition, and care, however, there is the sense of enquiry, and the patient gathering of knowledge or data, which might lead to a greater understanding of the world around us, and our place within it.

‘We cannot even be sure of the performers with whom we might ordinarily identify: are they real or, in their ability to fade in and out of existence, something rather more spectral, ghosts or echoes of past actions.

‘I hope that this combination of definite enquiry and uncertain discoveries will create a work that is theatrical, unusual, and instills a sense of curiosity rather than demands for an explanation’.

The exhibition ‘And Curiouser’ and Millar’s commission ‘A Scale of Time’ continues at the Museum of Barnstaple & North Devon until 27 April. Free Entry.

New Expressions is supported by MLA Renaissance and the National Lottery through Grants for the Arts.

Photo: 'A Scale of Time' (2012) Jeremy Millar. Museum of Barnstaple & North Devon. Commissioned as part of New Expressions 2. Photo: (c) Alex Caminada