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Margaret Tait – Selected Films 1952-1976

Margaret Tait was one of Britain’s most unique filmmakers. Her life’s work consisted of making film poems and over the course of 46 years she produced over 30 films including one feature. She also published three books of poetry and two volumes of short stories. This DVD contains a collection of films made by Tait between 1952 and 1976. Films included on this DVD are:

Portrait of Ga (1952),
Aerial (1974),
Hugh MacDiarmid,
A Portrait (1964),
Colour Poems (1974),
Where I Am Is Here (1964),
Place of Work (1976),
Tailpiece (1976),
John Macfadyen (The Stripes in the Tartan) (1970)

Black-and-white and colour
Silent and sound
Running time: 110 minutes


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Related biographies

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Reference number: 6233

Date: 1976

Director: [d. Margaret Tait]

Production company: [ Ancona Films]

Sound: sound

Original format: 16mm

Colour: bw

Fiction: non-fiction

Running time: 9.23 mins

Description: Lingering shots of house and garden accompanied by music, song and poetry provide an appropriate goodbye to Margaret Tait's empty house and studio in Buttquoy, Orkney.

This title is often perceived as a 'coda' to ref. 6230 PLACE OF WORK.

This film is an altogether sadder piece than ref. 6230, the house now empty and with Margaret Tait having no choice but to say goodbye.

'Margaret Tait's images of the final emptying of the house are suffused, in equal measure, with the pain of leaving these rooms of her childhood and of her maturity (of innocence and experience), and that 'optimism of the will' which allows her to go on practising her art' [Source: Alex Pirie]

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.

"Place of Work and Tailpiece (both 1976) documented her studio in the family house to which she had returned in Orkney, and which was eventually demolished by the Kirkwall local authority; Tailpiece showing the empty spaces after she moved out. These quiet works seemed to echo Virginia Woolf's call for 'A Room of One's Own'; and were important to a generation of women film-makers struggling to find their history within the male dominated London Film-makers Co-op"
[Source: taken from an online resource. No longer available. 3/4/2008]

The British Artist's Film and Video Study Collection at http://www.bftv.ac.uk/avantgarde 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 http://www.bfi.org.uk 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.

Shotlist: opening sequence, featuring very brief shot aeroplane flying overhead, shot of van with 'Ancona Films, Orkney' written on side title (0.09) exts house and garden, shot of cat on wall (0.41) c/u tea tray on table (0.47) Leaving Buttquoy [animated lines surround this intertitle] shot of tea and books on table, including Federico Garcia Lorca 'Poet in New York', piano music manuscript, newspaper (1.19) by Margaret Tait slow pan around interior of house showing staircase winding upwards and windows looking outside (2.01) c/u tracking shot moving slowly downstairs (2.21) ints gvs bedroom, half empty now - reflection of Margaret Tait with camera in hand can be seen in mirror from time to time as she surveys the room (4.57) shot of blank television screen in corner of room merges into photograph of child (possibly Margaret Tait herself?), various slow panning shots wall, concentrating on surfaces, chipped plaster etc (6.44) two removal men carry furniture downstairs, a bed is dismantled (8.06) gvs garden again, including shot of cat foraging for leaves (9.20) END (9.23) [Margaret Tait provides comments at some points during the film]