The pioneering Orcadian filmmaker, painter and poet, Margaret Tait, made her entrance into the world on a day to remember; November 11, 1918. Considering the way this most singular of artists doggedly ploughed her artistic furrow in life, there is a poetic quality in the fact Tait – who came from a long line of seafaring merchants – was born on the day hostilities on the Western Front of World War One formally ceased. Closer to the Tait family home in Kirkwall, Scapa Flow was the main base of the Royal Navy during wartime, a fact which dominated life on the Orkney Islands for decades.

From the outset, Margaret Tait was a girl who knew her own mind. On the first page of a handwritten memoir found in her personal archive after she died in 1999, she wrote: "I am told that the first words I ever spoke were, 'I want a hammer’."

This Friday (Nov 9), a new exhibition, Stalking the Image, will open at Glasgow's Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) as part of a Scotland-wide celebration of the life, work and legacy of Tait. When she died aged 80, the filmmaker Murray Grigor wrote in an obituary that she "realised her vision of the world across many of the artificial boundaries in the arts".

Widely celebrated within the artistic communities of Scotland and beyond, Tait is known as one of the most visionary and stridently independent filmmakers to have emerged from the country, yet her work has until recently remained relatively unknown. The significance of her work, not to mention its pioneering spirit, looks set to become widely known in the next year as a programme called Margaret Tait 100 gets underway.

This year-long programme of events to mark the centenary of Tait's birth includes screenings, exhibitions, workshops, readings, new publishing and commissioning opportunities for artists working with film. Delivered in partnership by LUX Scotland, the University of Stirling and the Pier Arts Centre in Orkney, it will give audiences the chance to find out about Tait's prodigious output as a multi-layered artist. 

Tait, who trained as a medical doctor before turning to filmmaking, made more than 30 short experimental films during her lifetime which she referred to as her "film poems". In 1992, at the age of 74, she produced her one and only feature film, Blue Black Permanent, starring Gerda Stevenson and Celia Imrie. It was the first feature length film to be made by a Scottish woman filmmaker. The next film which made by a Scots woman filmmaker was Lynne Ramsay's Ratcatcher, which was released in 1999.

Although Tait’s creativity found expression through a wide range of forms across art, film and poetry, she is known primarily as a filmmaker. She positioned herself outside of the commercial film industry, developing a highly independent and unique approach that has more in common with the artistry of a poet than that of a commercial film director. Working mainly 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 she described as "breathing with the camera". 

Stalking the Image, which opens two days after another new show, The Margaret Tait Poetry Archive, at the Demarco Archive in Summerhall, Edinburgh, provides an opportunity to honour Tait’s achievements in her centenary year.

The Glasgow exhibition will also show the work of nine contemporary artists and filmmakers, many of whom have been inspired by Tait. A survey of Tait’s experimental short films, features alongside a series of works commissioned as part of the Margaret Tait Award, named in her honour.

The roster of award-winning artists includes; Torsten Lauschmann (2010), Anne-Marie Copestake (2011), Stephen Sutcliffe (2012), Rachel Maclean (2013), Duncan Marquiss (2015), Kate Davis (2016), Sarah Forrest (2017) and Alberta Whittle (2018). 

The work of Tait will be shown on a large screen to the rear of the ground gallery, with visitors invited to immerse themselves in her world via headsets, while the work of the above-mentioned contemporary artists will be shown to the front of the gallery on the big screen.

The film installations are accompanied by an extensive display of archival photographs, ephemera and other materials relating to Tait’s life, filmmaking process and writing. 

Items of note include Tait's non-reflex single lens Bolex 16mm camera from the late 1990s and pen drawings of her signature heartbeat emblem; a reference to her training as a doctor. The minutiae of the artistic life can often give the deepest insight into the working practice of an artist. Alongside the sketches, paintings and newspaper cuttings, you'll find Tait's car log book which notes mileage, petrol, journeys and random notes, including the observation: "Really it's no wonder that people of Northern countries believe in fairies – for when you see new heather sprouting up where the old was burnt out with tiny orange coloured shoots & small deep brown pools in the peat moss & minute flowers & arrangements of heath plants how can you help thinking of 'little people'?"

Margaret Tait was a stalker of people, places, poetry and the occasional magical spirit. Let the celebration of this legacy begin.

Stalking the Image: Margaret Tait and Her Legacy, Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), Gallery 1 Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow, G1 3A. 0141 287 3050, & November 9 – May 5, 2019. Open daily. Free


It started off in London's Waterloo Station on National Album Day last month before moving on to Manchester Picadilly Station. Now an exhibition which commemorates 70 years of iconic album artwork, from Beethoven to The Strokes, via The Beatles and Grace Jones is taking the high road to Glasgow Central Station. Album Artwork Through The Ages will arrive in Scotland on Tuesday and remain on the concourse for two weeks, allowing members of the public to get up close to some of the most famous album designs in popular culture. The exhibition also delves into the history behind some of the most renowned designs of our time.
The exhibition begins in 1949, with a design by Alex Steinweiss – regarded as the world’s first sleeve designer. In this case, it is for one of the very first LP releases of music by Beethoven. This marks the beginning of a visual voyage of discovery which pays homage to classic album covers. Highlights include Miles Davis' Bitches Brew, Nick Drake's Pink Moon, Grace Jones' Night Clubbing and more recent designs, including The Strokes' Is This It and Run the Jewels' Run the Jewels 3. The Beatles feature twice with its masterfully minimalist The White Album and Sir Peter Blake's cover for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Other notable artists who feature in this exhibition include; Banksy with Blur’s Think Tank and – a personal favourite – Pieter Bruegel the Elder's Netherlandish Proverbs, a detail of which appeared in the eponymous Fleet Foxes LP in 2008.
In a bid to find the nation’s favourite, the public will be invited to select three pieces of artwork from the 70 selected designs and can cast their votes at This will determine the UK’s ultimate album cover which will be revealed at the end of November.

National Album Day: Album Artwork Through The Ages, Glasgow Central Station concourse, Gordon St, Glasgow G1 3SL, November 6 - 9. Free



Art for Heart's Sake – Charity Art Exhibition, The Store Interiors, 26 Munro Place, Anniesland, Glasgow, G13 2UP, 0141 950 1333, From Friday November 9 – Monday November 12. Free.

From this Friday – for four days only – a host of Scottish artists, including Shelagh Campbell, Margaret Evans, Elisabeth Grant, Jo Cousland and Stevie Nicholson will be showing their work at The Store Interiors in Anniesland, Glasgow. The selling exhibition, will help raise much-needed funds for Marie Curie Cancer Care and Children's Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS).
This is the third year which this charity art sale has taken place on the furniture store's top floor gallery space. Prices for original artworks range from £50 to £4000. Last year it raised over £8000 for both causes, providing facilities and space as well as a fee for participating artists. There's an open invitation to Thursday night's preview, which takes place between 6pm and 9pm.