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Reference number: 6226

Date: 1955

Director: [d. Margaret Tait]

Sound: sound

Original format: 35mm

Colour: col

Fiction: fiction

Running time: 4.29 mins

Description: Hand painted directly onto film stock by Margaret Tait, this film features animated dancing figures, accompanied by authentic calypso music.

Calypso has been restored in a joint project between Scottish Screen Archive and bfi National Film and Television Archive.

Calypso is customarily dated 1955, although evidence would suggest that this, Tait’s first experiment with painting onto film stock, was first created in Italy three years earlier. Peter Hollander, her fellow student at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, recalled that Margaret was given a surplus piece of 35mm soundtrack with calypso music on it by a technical officer at the office of the British Information Service in Rome. A nitrate test reel, in a can labelled ‘hand painted in Rome’ was discovered by Alex Pirie in Margaret’s studio in October 2002. The artwork on this nitrate reel is altogether cruder than a later version painted onto safety stock. This later version is the one restored by Scottish Screen Archive.

Animation (drawings) only. Hand coloured.
Subsequent background information discovered indicates that the paint was in fact an analine dye, which would not contain pigment, as in a paint. See Original Condition Summary for further information.

See also MA thesis submitted to University of East Anglia by Winn, Joss Preserving the Hand Painted Films of Margaret Tait, 2002.

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.

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: painted by Margaret Tait

Shotlist: Hand painted directly onto film stock by Margaret Tait, this film features animated dancing figures, accompanied by authentic calypso music (4.29)