Orkney's film pioneer to be honoured in Kirkwall

By Huw Williams
BBC Scotland reporter

  • Published
Plaque to Margaret TaitImage source, MT 100
Image caption,
Temporary plaques commemorating Margaret Tait have been placed on buildings and at places linked to her

Temporary plaques have been placed around Scotland at places linked to the Orcadian poet and film maker Margaret Tait.

Now plans have been announced to commemorate her permanently with a memorial in St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall.

She was the first Scots woman to direct a full-length feature film, "Blue Black Permanent".

A re-mastered version is being shown in cinemas to mark her centenary.

And it will be released it on Blueray and DVD next spring, also including some of her short "film poems" as a bonus feature.

Image source, Kat Gollock
Image caption,
Another plaque has been placed on Milne's bar in Edinburgh which featured in Margaret Tait's profile of Hugh MacDiarmid
Image source, Kat Gollock
Image caption,
During the 1950s Margaret Tait lived - and had a studio - on Rose Street in Edinburgh

Margaret Tait's nephew, the photographer and writer Charles Tait, told BBC Radio Orkney : "We've got all these very worthy men with plaques in the cathedral.

"And I thought Margaret should be up there. I don't know what Margaret would have thought of it.

"But I think, from the point of view of equality and all the things that she's done, she should be there."

The family say permission has now been secured for the memorial to Margaret Tait to be installed in St Magnus Cathedral.

They hope that will be done within the next 12 months - her centenary year. That would make her the first woman honoured in an area of the cathedral unofficially known as "Poet's Corner".

Image caption,
St Magnus Cathedral dominates the centre of Kirkwall
Image caption,
At the moment all the plaques to writers in St Rognvald's chapel commemorate men
Image source, MT 100
Image caption,
This plaque commemorates a film Margaret Tait made in a croft at West Aith

Film maker and curator Peter Todd, who was a friend of Margaret Tait, said he hoped the re-release of her feature film would mean new audiences got the chance to discover her work.

Plans are underway to make some of the temporary plaques, erected in places like Rose Street in Edinburgh where Tait lived and had a studio in the 1950s, into official memorials - a move some on social media have dubbed "blue plaque permanent".

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