Roland Miller

Roland Miller was born in London in 1938, the only child of Dorothy and Douglas Miller. After the war Douglas was employed as a mental hospital administrator in Devon where the family moved. The hospital had its own farm and accommodation for staff in the grounds, so that is where Roland was brought up, in that strange environment.

He attended local village schools and gained a scholarship to Exeter Grammar School, where most boys were fee paying, then went on to Wadham College Oxford where he studied English Literature. On graduating, he worked briefly as a journalist, as a gardener at Dartington Hall where he met John Cage and for the Royal Shakespeare Company. He studied theatre at Manchester University under Stephen Joseph, an early propionate of theatre-in-the-round.

Living in London in the 60s Roland became involved in alternative publications and theatre. As a performer he joined The People Show, a touring theatre group started by Jeff Nuttall. The People Show was ground breaking for its combination of improvisation within scripts and for taking an audience with them outside of the theatre.

Roland met Shirley Cameron in 1970 and they started working together combining her skills as an artist with his as a performer. As well as teaching they created a visual form of performance, Performance Art, which could appear controversial in its originality and spontaneity but later became influential. He was a passionate pioneer in this work and remained so.

Together they travelled to venues throughout Britain and Europe, mainly by train and often with their young children, who would sometimes appear in the performances. These art projects were presented in varied and many unconventional locations, including streets, festivals and landscapes, and in agricultural shows, shops, theatres and art galleries.

In addition Roland wrote for a range of different publications. He taught at Leeds College of Art and later at Huddersfield University, was an inspirational and generous teacher who often involved students in his performances, and is credited by past students with changing the course of their lives, for the better! His work was radical, subversive, anti-capitalist and poetic. He was prolific.

This work, mostly in partnership with Shirley Cameron includes – Railway Images 1970, happenings beside the track between Wakefield and Leeds as trains passed; Striped Sound 1973, with The Gentle Fire musicians playing inside striped boxes, determining actions, Oval House, London; In Air and Water 1973, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Rabbits 1974, tour of Agricultural Shows; Seed Drill/Pyramids 1976, representing British art in Italy for Arte Inglese Oggi, Milan; Heads, Hands and Feet 1978, Polish tour of 6 cities; Celebration of Pre-Metrication 1978/79, in Scale for Sculpture, an Arts Council touring exhibition; Pink Leaves, 1980, at Spazio Alternative, Montecatini, Italy; Fotospiel and Nature v Nurture 1982, Schloss Bleckede, Luneburg, Germany; Red People 1984, with a Sheffield group at Jobs for a Change GLC Festival, South Bank, London; Baby Tree 1985, invitation to mark the 40th anniversary of the ending of the 2nd world war, Berlin, theatre and market; Service 1987, Galerie L’Ollava, Lyon, France; Earth Sign Earth 1992, Gustrow, East Germany; Burger King of the Castle 1995, Castle of Imagination Festival, Pojezierze Bytowskie, Bytow, Poland; Out of Time performances, 2002, SCAT exhibition, Bolsover Castle, Bolsover; Drawing Lesson 2006, EPAF Europejski Festiwal, Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland; The 1% Club 2012, Occupy Conference, camp and streets, Sheffield.

By the 90s Roland was doing more work as a university lecturer at Huddersfield, with generous performing opportunities, and he gained a PhD, ‘Montage, Collage and Bricolage’, on the subject of his own work.

In the 2000s he continued presenting his art projects in Europe and in the UK, working with communities and locally too. As the decades passed he retired from teaching and his health declined. He still presented his work in local venues and become a well known character around his local park and cafes.

Shirley Cameron

He is survived by myself, Shirley Cameron, our daughters, Colette and Lois, his children by his first marriage, Katrinka and Casey, and by his grandchildren, Tommy, Daisy, Sam, Sasha and Jake.