Legacy & Presentation

Margaret Tait, hand made screening notes for Hugh McDiarmid: A Portrait (1964). Courtesy of the Margaret Tait estate and LUX.

Honouring the integrity of Tait’s work and its legacy: a note on Tait’s intentions for the exhibition of her films

During her lifetime, Tait insisted on exhibiting her work in the 16mm format it was created in. In fact, Tait often turned down invitations from galleries intending to show her work on monitors or displays rather than through cinematic projection. Tait also insisted that her films be shown in their entirety, that they were not used as extracts for illustration in documentaries or any other contexts. Her husband, Alex Pirie, explained that Tait’s resistance to extracts of her films being used stemmed from her dissatisfaction with the television profiles made about her, which she felt gave viewers the impression they had seen the films without really seeing them. She also disliked that the profiles’ emphasis seemed more on her rather than the work itself. For these reasons, Alex Pirie continued to honour Tait’s wishes for her films after her death, encouraging the work to be shown in its intended 16mm format and discouraging the use of extracts of her work to be shown in any context.

Source: Alex Pirie, interview by Sarah Neely, Cruan, Orkney, 1 September 2006.