Isabel Barfod Announced as Recipient of the 2023 Margaret Tait Commission

Part of Margaret Tait Commission

A hand drawn 2‑D animation shows a Black character from the hips above with a natural high top of jet black hair wearing a sleeveless top in light blue. The character’s head is bent to the left. The background is turquoise with pixelated black stripes.
Isabel Barfod, ‘Sidesteps’, 2021. Courtesy of the artist.

We are delighted to announce artist Isabel Barfod as the fourteenth recipient of the Margaret Tait Commission, an opportunity that recognises experimental and innovative artists working with the moving image delivered in partnership with Glasgow Film.

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. 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.

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.

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

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.

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.”

Isabel Barfod

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).

Glasgow Film

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.

Part of Margaret Tait Commission

The Margaret Tait Commission is a LUX Scotland commission delivered in partnership with Glasgow Film, backed by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland.

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