Film Commissions


Ten new short films have been commissioned to celebrate the life, legacy, attitude or approach of Scotland’s filmmaking pioneer Margaret Tait.

The ten artists and filmmakers selected were: Ute Aurand; Mark Cousins; Luke Fowler; Alexander Storey Gordon; Matt Hulse; Wendy Kirkup with Richy Carey; Morag McKinnon; Ali Smith with Sarah WoodCatherine Street; and Peter Todd.

The Margaret Tait 100 film commissions premiered on 19 August 2019 at CCA Glasgow and will make their festival debut at Inverness Film Festival on 9 November 2019, before touring to the Pier Arts Centre, Stromness, on 16 November 2019.

The films will soon be available to venues as a touring package from LUX, bookended by Tait’s earliest and last films: Three Portrait Sketches (1951) and Garden Pieces (1998). Download the full programme notes here.

Courtesy of the estate of Margaret Tait and Orkney Library and Archive.

Margaret Tait 100 Film Commissions

Mark Cousins, You With Your Fresh Thoughts, 2019.


You With Your Fresh Thoughts

Mark Cousins, 2019. HD video, 1 min 56 sec.

A moment on Rose St, Edinburgh, where Margaret Tait used to live.


Luke Fowler, Houses (for Margaret), 2019.

Houses (for Margaret)

Luke Fowler, 2019. 16mm, 5 min.

Filmed in Tait’s native Orkney, Fowler creates a record of her life and work through images of her past dwellings, filming locations and notebooks.  The soundtrack consists of location recordings made in Orkney and an archival tape recording of Tait reciting her poem ‘Houses’ in which she reflects on the meaning of home.


Alexander Storey Gordon, Shoe Leather, 2019.

Shoe Leather

Alexander Storey Gordon, 2019. HD video, 6 min 36 sec.

Shoe Leather (2019), was created in response to Margaret Tait’s film My Room. Via Ancona 21 (1951) and is shot over three days on Via Ancona and the surrounding area in Rome, June 2019. Taking the inverse approach to Tait’s intimate portrait of personal space, Shoe Leather encompasses the idea of filming as an act of espionage, of looking onto from the outside.

“Shoe Leather” is a term used in film to describe parts of a film that precede other scenes and try to make sense of the transitions between them. These sequences usually establish necessary continuities, a sense of place, or an understanding of how characters arrive at their destinations.


Matt Hulse, On Returning (1989–2019), 2019.

On Returning (1989–2019)

Matt Hulse, 2019. Super 8mm transferred to digital, 4 min 9 sec.

Hulse was commissioned to rephotograph a pivotal scene, shot for shot, from his Super 8mm film On Returning (1989), revisiting the same location (Isle of Mull) along with the film’s original players – himself and his mother. The latter however, now 74 years old and living in Bristol, declined to travel. This is the result.


Richy Carey & Wendy Kirkup, The Forest of Everything, 2019.

The Forest of Everything

Richy Carey & Wendy Kirkup, 2019. HD video, 5 min 4 sec.

The Forest of Everything (2019) is about collaborating, a playing with and knowing with. Influenced by Margaret Tait’s Aerial (1974), Kirkup, Carey and the children played, played, and played again with the materials around them; light, water, air, earth and trees. Knowing and knowing anew how we meet and compose these materialities through moving, making, looking and listening. The images and soundtrack are made from the children’s own recordings of their surroundings, a song they wrote, and fragments of their play.


Morag Mckinnon, Never the same, 2019.

Never the same

Morag Mckinnon, 2019. SD video, 6 min 43 sec.

On the last visit to her grandmother’s house before she moved in to a retirement home, Mckinnon realised that nothing would ever be the same again. Mckinnon looked at everything with the eyes that knew she was looking upon the things of her past, of her childhood for the last time. Never the same (2019) is a document of that visit.


Ali Smith & Sarah Wood, The Bravest Boat, 2019.

The Bravest Boat

Ali Smith & Sarah Wood, 2019. HD video, 10 min.

How do we connect what we see and hear with what’s actually happening?

In the light and the dark of the 21st century, The Bravest Boat (2019) celebrates the legacy of Margaret Tait’s time in postwar Italy and the origin of her filmic vision.  A collaboration inspired by Tait’s aesthetic communality and her understanding of what the image means – what cinema is for.


Catherine Street, Allegory of the shivering light, 2019.

Allegory of the shivering light

Catherine Street,2019. HD video, 5 min 6 sec.

An abstract poetry-film made in response to Margaret Tait’s poem ‘Light’. The surface of the screen glistens and sweats as individual pixels shiver and shimmer. A soft voice-over explores the symbolic and physical properties of light whilst a contrasting voice interrupts with thoughts about the difficulties of writing.


Peter Todd, a spoon, 2019.

a spoon

Peter Todd, 2019. 16mm transferred to digital, 2 min 30 sec.

Images gathered into a film. Images from earlier works and some new. Todd has always found spoons amazing things. Often beautiful, and ever useful. So he has made a film for them. Thank you spoons.