LUX Scotland has announced artist Andrew Black as the twelfth recipient of the £15,000 Margaret Tait Award, Scotland’s most prestigious moving image prize for artists. Andrew has proposed a new work, The Besom, which will draw on local-history research practices and experimental production processes to explore strange synchronicities and uncanny presences in a depopulated upland landscape.
Established in 2010, the Margaret Tait Award is a LUX Scotland commission delivered in partnership with Glasgow Film, with support from Screen Scotland. Inspired by the pioneering Orcadian filmmaker and poet Margaret Tait (1918–99), the award recognises experimental and innovative artists working with the moving image, offering a unique avenue of commissioning and production support and providing a high-profile platform to exhibit newly commissioned work.
Each year, the award is presented to an artist based in Scotland who has established a significant body of work over the past 5–10 years; is recognised by peers for their contribution to the artists’ moving image sector; and can demonstrate the significant impact that the award will have on the development of their practice. Andrew will get a solo show at LUX in London as well as a touring show in Scotland as well as the bursary to make the new work.
Andrew Black was born in Leeds and has lived in Glasgow since 2009. He was on the committee of Transmission gallery in 2016 and 2017, and in 2018 took part in the Experimental Film & Moving Image Residency at Cove Park, and the Autumn Residency at Hospitalfield. He is currently working with Atlas Arts on the Plural Futures Community Film commission on the Isle of Skye and will exhibit with Aman Sandhu at Glasgow International in June 2021.
Named for a 19th-century inn, once a site of social gathering, The Besom will explore the traces of different social and industrial pasts which haunt the now-ruined building’s surroundings. Andrew will employ local-history research practices, and refer to conventions of topographical and fantasy writing, to explore possible unactivated potentialities foreclosed by the advances of different phases of Capitalism, and the strange synchronicities which connect to other, anxious narratives of surveillance and control. Navigating this chaotic mix of past and future, the production will explore video-communication technology’s potential for enabling improvisation, collaboration and archiving - building on Andrew’s earlier work to take image-making devices to the limits of the body’s reach - and address the timely concern of how our bodies, memories and experiences are mediated by digital technology.
Andrew Black said: “I feel completely stunned to receive the Margaret Tait award this year - it’s a massive deal for anyone who makes moving-image in Scotland. It’s all the more humbling considering the quantity of excellent video work being made here - all of the shortlisted artists have practices that I know and love, and I can’t really express how privileged I feel to have been included alongside them. I tried to propose a project that can work imaginatively with the limitations of our present situation and create the circumstances for exchange and improvisation.
"It's a project I've wanted to make for a long time, and it seemed to offer an opportunity to explore some of the anxieties and complexities of the current moment, so I'm excited to see where it will lead once we get started. I’m extremely grateful to those who nominated me, to LUX Scotland, Glasgow Film and Screen Scotland, and most of all to my friends and peers, who constitute the creative community I have benefitted from so much.”
The 2021 Margaret Tait Award panel this year included Alberta Whittle (2018 Margaret Tait Award recipient); Kim McAleese (Programme Director, Grand Union, Birmingham); Tina Fiske (Director, CAMPLE LINE, Dumfriesshire); Thomas Abercromby (artist and curator); Sean Greenhorn (Screen Scotland); and Kitty Anderson (Director, LUX Scotland, panel chair).
Previous Margaret Tait Award recipients include Emilia Beatriz; Jamie Crewe; Alberta Whittle; Sarah Forrest; Duncan Marquiss; Charlotte Prodger; Rachel Maclean; Stephen Sutcliffe; Anne-Marie Copestake; and Torsten Lauschmann.
Tina Fiske, Director of CAMPLE LINE, Dumfriesshire, said: “It is never an easy process for any panel, and that was truly the case this year given the five brilliant artists who were shortlisted. Andrew was selected because of his compelling and charged proposal encompassing rural space, memory, personal biography, questions of belonging and forms of control. We are genuinely excited by the prospect of this new work and the opportunity to build on what is already a highly noteworthy body of moving image work.”
Artist and curator Thomas Abercromby said: “I am thrilled that Andrew Black has been selected as this year's Margaret Tait Award recipient. The panel felt that this award would come at a critical point in his career as an artist. I found his proposal compelling to the situation we currently find ourselves in. His proposal challenges the notion of visibility, surveillance, and ways of being present in relation to the land through digital technologies from a deeply personal and intimate perspective. Andrew has made an outstanding contribution to Scotland's moving image sector over several years now. The support through this award will enable his practice to continue to flourish and allow us as an audience to be immersed in a world of new ideas.”
Kitty Anderson, Director of LUX Scotland said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with Andrew over the coming year to realise his proposal, and to premiere the new work as part of Glasgow Film Festival 2022. This year’s shortlist - Andrew Black, Christian Noelle Charles, Winnie Herbstein, Mathew Wayne Parkin and Tako Taal - was truly outstanding, and it was a real privilege to be able to spend time with each of the artist’s work. My thanks go to all five shortlisted artists for their excellent proposals, and to all the artists that submitted their work for consideration.
"This year we received the greatest number of nominations to date, which is indicative of both the increased interest in artists’ moving image, and the incredible quality of work being produced. Our thanks go to all of the nominators, without whom we would not have received such a wonderfully diverse and far-reaching long-list.
"My thanks also go to this year’s selection panel for their generosity and thoughtfulness throughout the selection process, and to Glasgow Film Festival and Screen Scotland for their ongoing support of this wonderful opportunity.”
Sean Greenhorn, Screen Officer at Screen Scotland said: “Congratulations to Andrew on this fantastic achievement. The standard of work among this year’s nominees was outstanding but Andrew’s ambitious and creative ideas really shone through. Previous winners of the Margaret Tait Award have used this opportunity as a springboard to create innovative new work and go on to become incredible ambassadors for moving image art from Scotland, internationally, and we wish Andrew well in bringing his new work to life, adding to this legacy.”
Jamie Crewe, recipient of the tenth Margaret Tait Award, exhibited their new commission at LUX’s exhibition space in London earlier this year: https://lux.org.uk/event/jamiecrewe-ashley
LUX Scotland is a non-profit agency dedicated to supporting, developing and promoting artists’ moving image practices in Scotland. Working at the intersection of the contemporary visual arts and film sectors, its core activities include public exhibition and touring projects, learning and professional development for artists and arts professionals, distribution, commissioning and production support, research and sector advocacy. From its offices based in Glasgow, it works with a growing network of national and international partners, including museums, contemporary art organisations, film festivals and educational institutions, to deliver its programme. One of its current priorities is the establishment of a new distribution collection of artists’ moving image based in Scotland. Established in 2014, LUX Scotland is a part of LUX and is supported by Creative Scotland.
Glasgow Film Festival (GFF) is firmly established as a key event in the UK's film calendar. Having grown greatly in significance and as a key launching pad for films in recent years, the festival has leapt into the top three film festivals in the UK. GFF continues to grow and develop its international reputation. The 2021 festival will take place online from 24 February to 7 March 2021.
Screen Scotland is the dedicated partnership for screen in Scotland. With funding from Scottish Government and the National Lottery, Screen Scotland is driving the cultural, social and economic development of all aspects of the sector in Scotland, through enhanced funding, services and support. Screen Scotland sits within Creative Scotland and is a partnership with Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Funding Council, working in close collaboration with the sector to ensure its success. Find out more about us, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.
Header Image: Andrew Black by Erika Steveson