The Gardener has not been idle though. I have been working at the day job while the tin shed is pelted with torrential rain and howling wind. The shed is bearing up well to the elements – very warm and cosy. I had thought that the sound of the rain might be maddening and I would be driven totally insane by the sound of it hammering on the roof, like a character during the monsoon in a Somerset Maugham short story, but so far so good and I have not yet taken up a machete and gone on the rampage. Not yet …
Do you remember the radiant journey?
Orkney June 2015
A walk from Maes Howe to Brodgar
Eight photographs taken on Friday, 26th JUne
We arrived by ferry from Aberdeen at almost midnight on the Summer Solstice.
Orkney was experiencing the worst summer in living memory. The island is bleak and almost treeless and dotted with ancient sites, windswept. Oslo is closer than London.
We walked from Maes Howe, a covered Neolithic tomb, to Brodgar, to the Neolithic stone circle.
There was a sea mist, raining and the saturated atmosphere became prismatic, with radiance all around. The wet grass glowed against the greyness of the sky.
This work seeks to evoke that radiant day as a distillation or essence rather than a more extended rambling narrative; as a haiku rather than a travelogue and using as few images as possible.
The title is taken from the libretto of Massenet’s opera, Thaïs.
Bumpted into Pete Todd (filmaker) and Sarah Christian at Nunhead station the other day. They have been to Orkney many times and reminded me of Margaret Tait.
Born in 1918 in Kirkwall on Orkney, Scotland, Margaret Tait qualified in medicine at Edinburgh University 1941. From 1950 to 1952 she studied film at the Centro Sperimentale di Photographia in Rome.
Returning to Scotland she established Ancona Films in Edinburgh’s Rose Street. In the 1960’s Tait moved back to Orkney where over the following decades she made a series of films inspired by the Orcadian landscape and culture. All but three of her thirty two films were self financed. She wrote poetry and stories and produced several books including three books of poetry.
Screenings include National Film Theatre (London), Berlin Film Festival, Centre for Contemporary Art (Warsaw), Arsenal Kino (Berlin), Pacific Film Archives (San Francisco), Knokke le Zoute, Delhi and Riga. Tait was accorded a retrospective at the 1970 Edinburgh Film Festival and has been the subject of profiles on BBC and Channel Four.
The feature length Blue Black Permanent (1993) opened the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Her final film Garden Pieces was completed in 1998.