Garden Pieces. 1998. Great Britain. Directed by Margaret Tait. 16mm. 11 min.
Being in a Place: A Portrait of Margaret Tait. 2022. Great Britain. Directed by Luke Fowler. 35mm. North American premiere. 60 min.
Luke Fowler’s newest work centers on Scottish filmmaker Margaret Tait (1918–1999), an artist with whom he shares a devotion to the poetic possibilities of the documentary image. Drawing on a wide range of archival material, and taking an unrealized script as its core, the film considers Tait’s life and work and its connection to the landscape of Orkney—the Scottish isles where Tait’s residence, far removed from the film industry, echoed her fiercely independent spirit. Rather than presenting a definitive biography, Fowler embraces the resonance of fragmentary images and sounds, the overlooked, and the elusive. His searching portrait is preceded by Tait’s Garden Pieces, a lyrical trio of compositional studies. Together, the films speak to the threshold between past and present, journeying between a rich archive and what could have been—recalling Tait’s title for her never-funded feature: “Visions of Ephemerality and Permanence.”