New exhibition at Glasgow's GoMA celebrates life and work of visionary Scots filmmaker Margaret Tait

New exhibition at Glasgow's GoMA celebrates life and work of visionary Scots filmmaker Margaret Tait

Stalking The Image: Margaret Tait and Her Legacy. November 8th 2018 – May 5th 2019 GoMA, Gallery 1

Stalking the Image: Margaret Tait and Her Legacy is a celebration of the life, work and legacy of the pioneering Orcadian filmmaker, painter and poet, Margaret Tait (1918–99). Tait is one of the most visionary and stridently independent filmmakers to have emerged from Scotland, yet her work has until recently remained relatively unknown and its significance undervalued.

This exhibition at Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) provides an opportunity to honour Tait’s achievements in the centenary year of her birth alongside work by nine contemporary artists and filmmakers, many of whom have been inspired by Tait.

A survey of Tait’s experimental short films, made across 47 years and many places, features in the exhibition, alongside a series of works commissioned as part of the Margaret Tait Award, Scotland’s most prestigious moving image award for artists. Artists include Torsten Lauschmann (2010 Margaret Tait Award recipient), Anne-Marie Copestake (2011), Stephen Sutcliffe (2012), Rachel Maclean (2013), Charlotte Prodger (2014), Duncan Marquiss (2015), Kate Davis (2016), Sarah Forrest (2017) and Alberta Whittle (2018). The film installations are accompanied by a display of archival photographs, ephemera and other materials relating to Tait’s life, filmmaking process and writing.  

Although Tait’s creativity found expression through a wide range of forms across art, film and poetry, she is best known as a filmmaker. She positioned herself resolutely outside of the commercial industry, instead developing a highly independent and unique approach that bears much more in common with the artistry of a poet than that of a commercial film director.

Working primarily on 16mm film, she often borrowed a phrase from the poet Federico García Lorca – ‘stalking the image’ – to describe her philosophy and method. This approach of locating the true nature of things through concentrated observation is closely tied to a technique that she described as ‘breathing with the camera’.

Councillor David McDonald, the Chair of Glasgow Life and Depute Leader of Glasgow City Council, said:

We are pleased to open Striking The Image and celebrate the life and work of Margaret Tait by presenting a survey of her experimental short films. Tait’s work was ahead of its time in many respects and this exhibition acknowledges her as a key figure in the development of Scottish filmmaking.

The legacy of Tait’s vision is also reflected in the works on display which have been commissioned as part of the Margaret Tait Award and created by some of Scotland’s most renowned artists. This exhibition allows us to consider Tait’s impact on future generations of artists and introduce her films to new audiences, giving her work the wider recognition it deserves.

Stalking the Image is presented in partnership with LUX Scotland to coincide with Margaret Tait 100, a year-long nationwide programme celebrating the centenary of Margaret Tait’s birth. Margaret Tait 100 is led by the University of Stirling with LUX Scotland and Pier Arts Centre. The exhibition is curated by Nicole Yip (Director, LUX Scotland) and Will Cooper (Curator Contemporary Art, GoMA).

With thanks to the artists, the estate of Margaret Tait, National Library of Scotland | Moving Image Archive, Orkney Library and Archive, Pier Arts Centre and Peter Todd for lending material for the exhibition. With special thanks to Sarah Neely.