CANCELLED: Margaret Tait and Joanna Margaret Paul, People and Places at GFF18

28 February 2018

CCA Cinema
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Margaret Tait, A Portrait of Ga, 1952. Courtesy of the estate of the artist and LUX.


Presented on the occasion of Margaret Tait’s centenary, this special programme features a selection of short films by the pioneering Orcadian filmmaker and poet (1918 – 99) alongside works by New Zealand artist, Joanna Margaret Paul (1945 – 2003).

Like Tait, Paul worked prolifically across the mediums of film, poetry and painting, portraying instances of everyday life from motherhood to the natural world. The programme is selected by curator and filmmaker Peter Todd and artist Kate Davis, and will be accompanied by readings of poetry by both Tait and Paul and a discussion between Davis, Todd, Dr Sarah Neely (academic researcher and writer) and Nicole Yip (Director, LUX Scotland).

We chose to alternate the films, weave them together, so that both Margaret Tait’s and Joanna Margaret Paul’s works would remain unique, but also they would have a dialogue between the themes they explore, and the images, the rhythms, and light of them. The choices include a simple pairing of portraits, Tait’s A Portrait of Ga’ and Paul’s Jillian Dressing’, and of poems on place, Tait’s Aerial’ and Paul’s Thorndon’. As female artists working with film at a similar period in time (Tait: 1950s – 90s) (Paul: 1970 – 80s), there is no indication that they knew each other’s work – with Paul in New Zealand and Tait in Scotland. However their films share many concerns and approaches. Both worked locally and the films are often of a daily experience at home and surrounding places. Both appear to have seen making their artworks as a way of being in the world. Both shared a sense of wonder which came from looking through the camera – Kate Davis, Peter Todd

The venue has step free access to all floors.

Works by Joanna Margaret Paul supplied courtesy of The Estate of Joanna Margaret Paul, Robert Heald Gallery and CIRCUIT Artist Film and Video Aotearoa New Zealand. Part of Glasgow Film Festival 2018.


Joanna Margaret Paul, Task, 1982. Super 8mm film transferred to HD video, 3 min 11 sec. A woman irons a piece of child’s clothing, revealing the dexterity and attention gained from repetition of the activity.

Margaret Tait, Colour Poems, 1974. Video, 12 min. A poem started in words is continued by the picture, part of another poem is read for the last of the nine. Some images are formed by direct-on-film animation, others are found by the camera – Margaret Tait

Joanna Margaret Paul, Body/​House, 1975. Super 8mm film transferred to HD video, 10 min 58 sec. Contrasting the exteriors of buildings with the female body, Body/​House is a study of time embedded in form.

Margaret Tait, Portrait of Ga, 1952. Video, 4 min 30 sec. Portrait of the film maker’s mother. Filmed back on Orkney.

Joanna Margaret Paul, Jillian Dressing, 1976. 16mm film transferred to HD video, 2 min 30 sec. Shot in a mirror in half-light, Jillian Dressing captures the practiced rituals of dressing.

Margaret Tait, Aerial, 1974. Video, 4 min. Touches on elemental images. Air, water (and snow), earth, fire (and smoke), all come into it.

Joanna Margaret Paul, Thorndon, 1975. Super 8mm film transferred to HD video, 4 min 56 sec. Opening with an image of a circling crane, Thorndon contrasts the half-constructed shapes and incursions of urban planning with the worn traces of urban settlement.

Joanna Margaret Paul

Joanna Margaret Paul (1945 – 2003) was a New Zealand artist who pioneered interdisciplinary practice, working prolifically across the mediums of film, poetry and painting. Often shot and edited in camera, her film work chronicled motherhood and domestic life (Task, Napkins), the worn traces of urban settlement (Port Chalmers Cycle) and the persistent presence of the natural world. Other works such as Sisterhood portrayed the life of other female artists identified with the 1970s women’s movement in New Zealand.

Margaret Tait

Margaret Tait (1918 – 1999) was born in Kirkwall on Orkney, Scotland. Tait qualified in medicine at Edinburgh University in 1941. From 1950 to 1952 she studied film at the Centro Sperimentale di Photographia in Rome.

Returning to Scotland she established Ancona Films in Edinburgh’s Rose Street. In the 1960’s Tait moved back to Orkney where over the following decades she made a series of films inspired by the Orcadian landscape and culture. All but three of her thirty two films were self financed. She wrote poetry and stories and produced several books including three books of poetry.

Screenings include National Film Theatre (London), Berlin Film Festival, Centre for Contemporary Art (Warsaw), Arsenal Kino (Berlin), Pacific Film Archives (San Francisco), Knokke le Zoute, Delhi and Riga. Tait was accorded a retrospective at the 1970 Edinburgh Film Festival and has been the subject of profiles on BBC and Channel Four. The feature length Blue Black Permanent (1993) opened the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Her final film Garden Pieces was completed in 1998.