Margaret Tait: Film Makar

Margaret Tait: Film Makar

Eastern Lane
TD15 1AJ

01289 330999


I don’t have to know what it’s all about. That’s not what I’m trying to know. It’s the looking that matters, The being prepared to see what there is to see.

From Seeing’s Believing and Believing’s Seeing Margaret Tait (1918-1999), the pioneering Orcadian filmmaker, poet and painter, was one of the most visionary and independent filmmakers to have emerged from Scotland, yet her work has until recently remained relatively unknown and its significance undervalued.

She is the inspiration for the prestigious Margaret Tait Award, awarded annually by LUX Scotland, Glasgow Film and Screen Scotland to support innovative artists working with the moving image. This programme will provide an introduction to Tait's life, work and legacy. Dr. Sarah Neely will present a selection of Tait's films alongside readings of Tait's poetry and writing, including rare recordings of Tait reading her own poetry.

Structured chronologically, the programme will explore the way in which Tait's work developed over time and in relation to the places she lived and worked (Italy, Edinburgh and Orkney). Although Tait’s creativity found expression through a wide range of forms across art, film and poetry, she is best known as a filmmaker. She positioned herself resolutely outside of the commercial industry, instead developing a highly independent and unique approach that bears much more in common with the artistry of a poet than that of a commercial film director. Working primarily on 16mm film, she often described her philosophy and method by borrowing a phrase – ‘stalking the image’ – from the Spanish poet Federico García Lorca. This approach of locating the true nature of things through concentrated observation is closely tied to a technique that she described as ‘breathing with the camera’.

Born in 1918 in Kirkwall on Orkney, Margaret Tait qualified in medicine at Edinburgh University. From 1950 to 1952 she studied film at the Centro Sperimentale di Photographia in Rome. Returning to Scotland she established Ancona Films in Edinburgh’s Rose Street and was associated with the Rose Street Poets. In the 1960’s Tait moved back to Orkney where over the following decades she made a series of films inspired by the Orcadian landscape and culture. Come along and enjoy the calm and shrewd observation of someone prepared to see what there is to see.

There will be a twenty-minute interval and refreshments will be served. This event is a collaboration between Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival, Margaret Tait 100 and Berwick Educational Association.

Image: Margaret Tait and Peter Hollander, Perugia 1952, courtesy of the Margaret Tait Estate and Orkney Library and Archive

Margaret Tait: Film Makar takes place at...
The Maltings Theatre & Cinema, Berwick-upon-Tweed (Entertainment)

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Margaret Tait: Film Makar

TD15 1AJ

01289 330999

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