Introducing Jeremy Millar

Following a call for submissions in 2013, Jeremy Millar was selected as the inaugural Locws International Public Art Open Submission commission. We caught up with him ahead of his work for Art Across The City 2014

Who are you?

My name is Jeremy Millar, I am 43, and I live in Whitstable, Kent.

Hello, how are you?

Fine thanks.

What do you do?

As well as being an artist, I am also tutor in critical writing at the Royal College of Art, London. I also write on art occasionally.

What have you been doing recently?

Last year I completed a commission called The Oblate, which was shown at Southampton City Art Gallery; it was a collaboration with a monk, Father Nicholas Spencer, who is the oblate master and head of the bookbindery at Quarr Abbey on the Isle of Wight. The work consisted of a first edition of Joris-Karl Huysman’s 1903 novel, L’Oblat, which was custom-bound in fine leather by Father Nicholas, and a film by me of the process, and of the sense of time at the monastery during the process. Although the film is nearly three hours long, the whole process took five days, so it is actually rather accelerated, even if it doesn’t seem like it.

What are you doing for Art Across The City in Swansea?

I am making a large flag which will fly in a prominent spot in the city centre.  It will mark the visits to Swansea of two extraordinary thinkers, Emanuel Swedenborg, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein spent his summers in Swansea in the 1940s, declaring upon his arrival ‘Am I glad to be here!’; Swedenborg only visited, in part, after his death, when his stolen skull was bought in a London curiosity shop by a Swansea doctor before the First World War. The flag will show an image of Swedenborg’s strangely elongated skull along with Wittgenstein’s joyous declaration.

What are your ideas behind the work?

My work often takes historic events and reactivates them within the present day, and this is what I’m doing here: to take the visits of two great figures to Swansea and present them to a contemporary audience.

What do you think the public will make of it?

I have no idea: some might even like it.

What are you up to next?

I’m also working on a new film for the Whitstable Biennale, and for a solo exhibition at Muzeum Stzuki, in Lodz; both exhibitions open on 31 May.

Self-Portrait as a Drowned Man (The Willows), Silicone; fibreglass; hair; clothing; mixed media, 2011