Margaret Tait 100 short film commissions announced

Margaret Tait 100 has announced the recipients of ten new short film commissions that celebrate the life, legacy, attitude or approach of Scotland’s filmmaking pioneer, Margaret Tait.

The first five artists and filmmakers selected are: filmmaker and curator, Ute Aurand; multi-award winning director and critic, Mark Cousins; Turner Prize nominee, artist, filmmaker and musician, Luke Fowler, author, Ali Smith CBE FRSL with filmmaker, Sarah Wood, and curator and filmmaker, Peter Todd.

Of the ten commissions, five more were drawn from a competitive national open call process. The further five artists and filmmakers are: Alexander Storey Gordon; Matt Hulse; Wendy Kirkup with composer Richy Carey; Morag McKinnon; and Catherine Street.

The five successful open call proposals were selected by a panel comprising Dr Sarah Neely (Director, Margaret Tait 100), Nicole Yip (Director, LUX Scotland), Ben Cook (Director, LUX), Andrew Parkinson (Curator, Pier Arts Centre) and John Archer (Producer, Hopscotch Films).

Sepia image of an old fashioned film camera, courtesy of Orkney Library

Ten new film commissions

Ute Aurand studied at the film and television academy in Berlin. She is a teacher and curator, and a devoted 16mm filmmaker since 1980. In 1997, she co-founded the group FilmSamstag. She has been a central figure of Berlin’s experimental film scene since the 1980s and is one of the most significant filmmakers active in the diary and portrait tradition today.

Mark Cousins is a film director, producer and writer best known for his 15-hour 2011 documentary The Story of Film: An Odyssey. He has worked on numerous cine-essays, including A Story of Children and Film, and I Am Belfast, in which the city is personified by a 10,000 year old woman. Cousins’ films have won the Prix Italia, a Peabody, The Stanley Kubrick Award and other prizes, and have been shown in Cannes, Berlin, Telluride, MoMA in New York, and in cinemas around the world.

Luke Fowler is a Glasgow-based filmmaker, artist and musician. His work explores the limits and conventions of biographical and documentary film-making. This has resulted in comparisons with British Free Cinema of the 1950s, which represented a new attitude to film-making that embraced the reality of everyday, contemporary British society. Fowler received the inaugural Jarman Award in 2008 and was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2012.

Alexander Storey Gordon makes drawings, films, texts and events that look at the way film and literature mediate perceptions and conceptions of ourselves, our environment and others. His recent exhibitions and screenings include Matches, David Dale Gallery & LUX Scotland (2019); Interludes, Plymouth Art Centre and Mount Florida Screenings, Plymouth Art Weekender (2018); A Wondering Soul, with Richy Carey, Radiophrenia, CCA Glasgow (2017); A Apopheny!, Intermedia Gallery, Glasgow (2017); and Suppose there is A, ICA Singapore (2017).

Matt Hulse is a filmmaker, photographer, performer and writer. In 2017 he won Germany's Felix Schöller Photo Award for his series Sniper (2017), shot in North Korea. Glasgow Short Film Festival have said: “Hulse creates cinema out of whatever is to hand – he transforms the everyday and banal into something striking, witty and beautiful.” Edinburgh International Film Festival described his feature Dummy Jim (2013) as a “totally unique mixture of documentary, fiction and playful visual poetry.”

Wendy Kirkup is a visual artist based in Glasgow and Associate Lecturer at Moray School of Art, University of the Highlands and Islands. Her works have been shown both nationally and internationally including recent screenings at Beton 7, Athens; Artist Television Access, San Francisco; and Kate Macgarry, London. For her commission Kirkup is collaborating with composer Richy Carey. His work tends to look at intervals between sound, moving-image and text, with a particular focus on collaborative language making and its material consequences. He is Glasgow’s UNESCO city of music artist-in-residence and winner of a Scottish BAFTA New Talent Award.

Ali Smith is the author of many works of fiction, including, most recently, Spring (2019), Winter (2017), Autumn (2016), Public Library and Other Stories (2015), and How to Be Both (2014), which won the Baileys Prize for Women’s Fiction, the Goldsmiths Prize, and the Costa Novel of the Year Award. Her work has four times been short-listed for the Man Booker Prize. Smith is collaborating on her film with artist Sarah Wood. She works mainly with the documentary image to interrogate the relationship between the narrating of history and individual memory. Wood co-founded Club des Femmes with Selina Robertson, a positive female space for the re-examination of ideas through art.

Morag McKinnon is a writer and director whose films include Home (1998) which won a BAFTA for best short film. Further credits include the co-direction of BAFTA award-winning television series Buried (2003), the feature film Donkeys (2010) which won a Scottish BAFTA, and the documentary I Am Breathing (2012), co-directed with Emma Davie, which won BAFTA Scotland’s Best Director Award. McKinnon has recently been focusing on being a mother and continues to make and develop work.

Catherine Street is a visual artist working across video, performance, sound, writing, drawing, painting and collage. She aims to celebrate the world through the use of movement, colour and sensuality. She has recently shown work in NOW, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (2018). Other recent projects include the solo exhibition Muscle Theory, Reid Gallery, Glasgow (2015) and the group show Chamber of Maiden Thought, Plant, Glasgow (2018).

Peter Todd is an artist working in film, curated and collaborative projects. His films include NOW (2015); Room Window Sea Sky (2014); Untitled (2012); We Saw (2009); An Office Worker Thinks of Their Love, and Home (2003); For You (2000); Out (1990) all on 16mm film. Todd has produced various projects that present and explore the work of Margaret Tait, including a major retrospective of Tait’s work at the Edinburgh International Film Festival (2004). In 2018 he curated the season Rhythm & Poetry; The Films of Margaret Tait at BFI Southbank London.

Editor's Notes

Margaret Tait was born in Kirkwall on Orkney on Armistice Day, 1918, and died on Orkney in 1999. She attended boarding school in Edinburgh, before studying Medicine at the University of Edinburgh. During the Second World War, she served at home and abroad with the Royal Army Medical Corps. Post-war visits to France and Italy culminated in full-time study at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome. After studying film in Italy, Tait returned to Scotland and established her film studio, Ancona Films, on Edinburgh’s Rose Street.

Tait’s first film was made in 1951 and her last completed in 1998. She also published three books of poetry and two of short stories between 1959 and 1960. In the 1960s, Tait moved back to Orkney where over the following decades she made a series of films inspired by the Orcadian landscape and culture. Following Tait’s death in 1999, her thirty-two completed films were deposited with National Library Scotland’s Moving Image Archive in Glasgow, who undertook the necessary restoration and digitisation work on the films.

Margaret Tait 100 is a year-long centenary celebration of the work of Scotland’s pioneering filmmaker and poet, Margaret Tait. The programme officially launched in November 2018 on the occasion of Tait’s birthday, and includes screenings, exhibitions, workshops, readings, new publishing, and commissioning opportunities for artists working with film.

The Margaret Tait 100 programme is run in partnership with LUX Scotland, University of Stirling, Pier Arts Centre and a number of event partners. Supported by Creative Scotland.

Further information is available on margarettait100.com.