Recipients of the 2023 Margaret Tait Commission & Residency announced

Last night (6 March 2023), LUX Scotland announced artist Isabel Barfod as the fourteenth recipient of the Margaret Tait Commission. Isabel’s new moving image work will be held by new research in Scotland and England to consider the relation between Blackness, water, swimming and public swimming pools.

This year’s commission sees an increased budget of £20,000 to produce a new work, which will premiere at Glasgow Film Festival in 2024, followed by a solo presentation at LUX in London alongside a Scotland-wide tour.  

Isabel Barfod, ‘Sidesteps’, 2021. Courtesy of the artist. 

Isabel will develop an experimental animation which seeks to gather, unpack and speculate alongside counter-historical, experiential and mythological actors, as a way to render the multiple planes of feeling inside isolated ephemeral encounters.  

Artists Renèe Helèna Browne, Rhona Mühlebach, and George Finlay Ramsay were shortlisted for the commission, from a significant number of eligible artists who were nominated through an open call process. 

Cal Mac, Agony to Ecstasy, 2020. Courtesy of the artist. 

LUX Scotland are also pleased to announce Cal Mac as the 2023 recipient of the Margaret Tait Residency, an opportunity for artists working with film and moving image to develop their practice, in partnership with the Pier Arts Centre, Orkney. Building upon the legacy of the residency delivered by Glasgow Film in 2012 – 2014, the Margaret Tait Residency is aimed at emerging artists working in film and moving image with up to five years professional experience. The residency provides time and support for developing work and practice without the demands of deadlines or public presentation.  

Cal will spend up to six weeks at the Pier Arts Centre’s newly renovated facilities Linkshouse - Orkney Arts Residency, exploring the relationship between visual language and feelings about belonging, acceptance and feeling valued and ‘at home’ for LGBTQIA+ people in different areas of Scotland in his moving image practice. 

Established in 2010, the Margaret Tait Commission is a LUX Scotland commission delivered in partnership with Glasgow Film, backed by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland. Previously known as the Margaret Tait Award, the name was changed in 2023 to more accurately reflect the nature of the opportunity. Inspired by the pioneering Orcadian filmmaker and poet Margaret Tait (1918 – 99), the commissioning opportunity recognises experimental and innovative artists working with the moving image, offering a unique avenue of production support and providing a high-profile platform to exhibit newly commissioned work.  

Nominations are by a panel of artists and professionals from across the fields of the visual arts and cinema. The selection panel for the 2023 Margaret Tait Commission comprised Sepake Angiama, Artistic Director, Iniva, London; Duncan Marquiss (artist and 2015 Margaret Tait Commission recipient); Ainslie Roddick, Artistic Director, Atlas Arts; Anne Petrie, Visual Arts Officer, Creative Scotland; Julia Paoli, Director and curator, Mercer Union, Toronto and was chaired by Kitty Anderson, Director, LUX Scotland. 

Previous Margaret Tait Commission recipients include Sulaïman Majali; Andrew Black; Emilia Beatriz; Jamie Crewe; Alberta Whittle; Sarah Forrest; Kate Davis; Duncan Marquiss; Charlotte Prodger; Rachel Maclean; Stephen Sutcliffe; Anne-Marie Copestake; and Torsten Lauschmann. 

The Margaret Tait Residency is delivered in partnership with the Pier Arts Centre, Orkney, with support from Screen Scotland, builds upon the legacy of the residency delivered by Glasgow Film in 2012 – 2014. Aimed at emerging artists working in film and moving image with up to five years professional experience, the residency provides time and support for developing work and practice without the demands of deadlines or public presentation. Cal will spend up to six weeks at the Pier Arts Centre’s newly renovated facilities Linkshouse - Orkney Arts Residency.  

The selection panel for the Margaret Tait Residency comprised Kari Adams, Curatorial Assistant, Pier Arts Centre, Orkney; Sarah Forrest, artist and recipient of the Margaret Tait Residency 2012; Jesse Mpango, curator and co-founder of Ajabu Ajabu Audio Visual House, Tanzania; Sarah Smyth, International Distribution and Commercial Development Officer, Screen Scotland and was chaired by Eve Smith, Learning Programme Manager, LUX Scotland. 

Cal Mac said, “The Margaret Tait Residency allows me the time and space to focus on what my approach to moving image is – without the demands of production or completion. During my time at the Piers Art Centre, I plan to merge my excitement for visual experimentation with my commitment to creating personal and evocative work. I became interested in what it means to be LGBT in rural Scotland in 2020, and so this residency allows me to experiment through a specific project that’s been in the works for a while. In discovering LGBT realities in Orkney, I want to explore conflicts of alienation, relationships with community, and attachment to home, but more specifically how these conflicts can be articulated in a way that’s unique to artist’s film. Through the experimental nature of the residency and through the support of LUX Scotland and the Piers Arts Centre, the possibilities of what this can look and sound like are vast. I’m beyond delighted to receive the residency to start working with LUX Scotland.” 

Kitty Anderson, Director of LUX Scotland, said, “It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to oversee the selection on the 2023 Margaret Tait Commission and the Margaret Tait Residency. We received a fantastic range of nominations for the commission, and a huge number of applications for the residency, demonstrating the demand for opportunities such as these. We were delighted to see the strength and breadth of practice in moving image from across Scotland, and my thanks go to all the applicants and nominated artists (and their nominators) for taking the time to submit their work for consideration. I also want to thank Creative Scotland for their ongoing support of the commission and the residency, and to our partners Glasgow Film and the Pier Arts Centre.  

The standard for both shortlists was incredibly high and I’m grateful to the artists for their thoughtful and considered proposals. My thanks also go to this year’s selection panels for their time and energy – it’s rewarding to have such in-depth and rigorous discussion about artistic practice. We look forward to working with Isabel and Cal over the coming months.” 

Anne Petrie, Visual Arts Officer at Creative Scotland said: “Congratulations to both Isabel Barfod and Cal Mac on becoming recipients of the 2023 Margaret Tait Commission and Residency respectively.  Creative Scotland is delighted to be a partner in both of these opportunities which offer valuable time and support to artists.  The standard of submissions across both awards was incredibly high, and we look forward to seeing how Isabel and Cal use these awards to develop their moving image work as well as seeing Isabel’s work premiere at the Glasgow Film Festival in 2024 before being presented in venues across Scotland as part of the planned tour.” 

Full details about the Margaret Tait Commission can be found here: 

More information

Isabel Barfod is an animator and artist based in Glasgow. Working across digital, hand-drawn, 2D and 3D animation, her work is driven by irritation and speculation, looking to process agitations through drawing, scratching and mark making. 

Her practice seeks to draw out the ‘hard-to-describe’ micro/experiences, feelings and phenomena associated with moving in and out of private/public space as a Black Queer person. Cloaking figures and gestures in abstraction, she evokes absurd, surreal and racialised social realities residing within the ephemeral encounter. As a means of working through her own uncertainty and frustrations, she images reparative and restitutive possibilities that are collectively-imagined and speculated.  

Previous screenings, grants and commissions include Flamin’ Animations Commission with Film London (2022 2023), Screening at London International Animation Festival, Barbican, London (2022), We Are Here Scotland - Creators Fund (2021) Screening at We Are Here Scotland Creators Showcase, Scotland (2022), Tramway TV - Sidesteps (2022), Take Me Somewhere - sendiri by Claricia Parinussa (2021), Screening at Africa in Motion Film Festival - Sidesteps (original), Scotland (2019).  

Cal Mac is a visual artist working and living in Glasgow. Working between sculpture, sound print and video, he explores themes of belonging and addiction through sociological, scientific and visual dialogues. His work often looks at clubbing and natural environments, enquiring into our current emotional condition and need for connection. His work has been screened at Atlas Arts (Skye), The Royal Scottish Academy (Edinburgh), Limerick Institute of Technology, and online for Lift off Festival, and Film and Video Umbrella. Following his first commission from Film and Video Umbrella in 2020, Mac has done residencies at Cove Park and Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop. In 2021 Mac was shortlisted for the Royal Scottish Academy Morton Award. 

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. Established in 2014, LUX Scotland is a part of LUX and is supported by Creative Scotland.  

Glasgow Film is an educational charity which runs Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT), Scotland’s original independent arthouse cinema and the home of film in Glasgow; Glasgow Film Festival (GFF), one of the UK’s leading public celebrations of cinema; and Glasgow Youth Film Festival (GYFF), a fast-growing international three-day festival co-curated by teenage film-lovers in the city. Glasgow Film is also the lead organisation for Film Hub Scotland, a membership organisation that supports more than 200 exhibitors across the country. 

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 is one of the top film festivals in the UK. GFF continues to grow and develop its international reputation. The 2023 festival will take place from 1 to 12 March 2023. 

The Pier Arts Centre in Stromness, Orkney was established in 1979 to provide a home for an important collection of British fine art donated by the author, peace activist and philanthropist Margaret Gardiner (1904 – 2005). The Centre also curates a year round programme of changing exhibitions and events for the education and enjoyment of the general public. 

The Pier Arts Centre is currently working on a project to develop Linkshouse – Orkney Arts Residency an accessible residency facility with studio provision for individual or group use. Linkshouse will act as a launch-pad for local artists and a landing-strip for artists visiting the county.  Beyond that it will be a focal point for the wider community, supporting other local arts organisations and festivals to nurture talent and make connections, while supporting the Pier Arts Centre’s educational work, enhancing opportunities for outdoor learning and wellbeing and represents a whole new area of creative activity for the Pier Arts Centre and Orkney.  

Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland distributing funding provided by the Scottish Government and The National Lottery. Further information at Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Learn more about the value of art and creativity in Scotland and join in at