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Reference number: 3700

Date: 1981

Director: filmed by Margaret Tait

Production company: Ancona Films

Sound: sound

Original format: 16mm

Colour: bwcol

Fiction: non-fiction

Running time: 31.32 mins

Description: The 'Land Makar' of the title is 'a poet of the land'. Margaret Tait described this film as 'A landscape study of an Orkney croft, with the figure of the crofter, Mary Graham Sinclair, very much in the picture, and enriched throughout by her vivid comments.'

Shotlisted with the aid of cutting guide handwritten by Margaret Tait.

Margaret Tait described this film as follows:
'A landscape study of an Orkney croft, with the figure of the crofter, Mary Graham Sinclair, very much in the picture, and enriched throughout by her vivid comments. Filmed over several seasons between 1977 and 1980, it takes in many of the human activities which alter the look of the land. The croft is on the edge of a small loch where swans and other birds nest in the grass. It is worked in the old style and, although a mechanised aids are brought into use when appropriate, much is done by one woman's labour. The crops are hay, turnips, potatoes, kale and oats; the croft also fattens a few cattle and feeds a little flock of hens and a few ducks .... 'Makar' is a Scots word, meaning 'poet'. The film is worked out so that the sequences are like a number of canvases.'

See also Additional Information file at 11/1/455. Paper Archives 4/5/119, 4/11/651, 4/5/92.

The Tait papers are deposited in Orkney Archives. Currently being catalogued. For any enquiries please contact Principal Archivist.

Online tour of this title, interpreted by contemporary Scottish writer Ali Smith can be found on the LUX website at: [last accessed 3/4/2008]

See also National Film Theatre Programme Notes - Art In Cinema - The International Avant-Garde Film.

See also Undercut No. 7/8, Spring 1983, pp. 17 - 19.

Her most ambitious portrait, LandMakar (1981), follows the year-round cycle-of-work of her farming neighbour Mary Graham Sinclair, and passionately affirms the value of a threatened way of life. This woman's solitary stewardship of the land is perfectly attuned to the extreme but beautiful environment; she is presented as a 'poet of the land' - the meaning of the Orcadian term 'land makar'.
[Source: taken from an online resource. No longer available. 3/4/2008]

The British Artist's Film and Video Study Collection at based at Central St. Martin's College of Art and Design holds an artist's file on Margaret Tait.

The British Film Institute National Library holds many of the published articles on her and her work.

In 1979 Margaret Tait was the subject of a BBC Scotland 'Spectrum' arts programme.

Credits: Ancona Films presents a film by Margaret Tait
featuring Mary Graham Sinclair

Shotlist: [shotlisted with the aid of cutting guide written by Margaret Tait]

(0.00) [col & bw] opening credits, title [repeated several times] (1.34) [col] gvs oatfield with stooks, house of West Aith and loch in background (2.33) shot of field of turnips, pan right to reveal house of West Aith and haystacks (2.46) c/u turnip and cabbage crops in field (2.59) Mary Graham Sinclair enters potato shed, ints potato shed where she turns potatoes (3.13) cats sitting on sunny wall, pan left to reveal coal bunker (3.27) [very dark] Mary in porch, she holds up large potato, followed by gvs begonia flowers in porch window (3.39) pumping a Lilley lamp (3.50) exts chimney smoking against dusky sky (3.56) ints c/u coal fire burning in stove (4.02) loch surface with ice and reflections on cold and wintry day (4.19) l/s winter scene with house of West Aith and sky (4.30) gvs Mary ploughing field using tractor, seagulls gather at freshly ploughed soil at end of sequence (8.34) c/u bright yellow flowers (Primula?) in and around paving at house (8.39) Mary forks over flower bed near house (9.23) c/u bright yellow flowers again (9.26) gvs wildflower meadow, including marsh marigolds, lady's smock and grass; field drain; Mary walks through flower field (9.58) swan on nest at lochside, c/u nest at lochside with seven eggs, pan across to reveal swan swimming on loch (10.36) gvs swans and cygnets on loch (11.33) gvs summer evening scene at loch (12.37) l/s loading hay bales on tractor at West Aith (12.50) c/u meadow flowers (12.52) loading hay bales on tractor at West Aith (13.07) water board post at field drain, field (13.17) loading hay bales onto tractor and trailer (13.32) gvs Mary scything hay in field, pulling back to shot of meadow and tractor (15.14) redshank birds fly from one fencepost to another (15.25) gvs Mary and other farm helpers turning hay with forks (15.36) forking hay across meadow to baling machine (15.42) brief shot young woman helping child settle for a snooze beside hay bales (15.46) gvs forking hay over to baler (17.06) child sits in among hay (17.10) further gvs forking hay to baler, shots of completed hay bales stacked in field (17.49) exts byre and shed, grass is growing from portion of roof (18.08) Mary climbs up lasser to top of haystack and walks along top, compacting hay (18.57) Mary prepares stack net (19.18) Mary standing beside haystack enjoying a chat and a laugh (19.43) shot of ducks sitting on grass, they rise and start to move (19.56) shot of grass laid flat by wind (20.00) c/u blackened elder leaves blowing in wind (20.18) c/u front page of 'Orcadian' newspaper with headline 'Orkney battered by 100mph gusts' (20.22) gvs haystacks in field, one has been blown down (20.32) ducks spalsh in sparkling water (20.58) Mary and friend work to repair haystacks, they are finally netted and weighed down (24.01) ints Mary's house, featuring kitchen (dresser, shopping basket on table, mantlepiece, cupboards, kettles on stove, pot plants on windowsill, calendar on wall) (22.47) exts broken wooden chicken houses (24.51) view over loch and landscape, pan to exts old stone buildings (25.15) Mary feeding calf using bucket (25.48) ox in field (25.50) gvs badly flooded road and field (26.21) calm aftermath of flood, showing loch and field (36.30) shop van ('Isbister Bros. Quoyloo, Haulage Contractors, General Merchants') arrives at West Aith farm, Mary enters carrying basket of eggs (26.58) ints van, Tam counts eggs out and Mary purchases shopping, selecting various groceries from shelves (27.45) Mary returns to house carrying shopping basket, she stops to say hello to cat at doorstep (28.08) tethered calf runs about in garden (28.23) brown up cygnet stands in middle of road, it then waddle sdown road and into loch (28.45) view over loch where swans and cygnets fish (29.26) Mary walks past outhouses where white pullets (hens?) are gathered (29.35) view over landscape at West Aith, including haystacks (30.06) Mary carries sackload of grass and scythe, exts outbuildings (30.22) feeding hens (31.01) ducks waddle towards loch on a winters afternoon (31.11) gvs landscape and croft at West Aith, includes shot of men digging field (31.32) [no ecs]