In this MA dissertation I discuss a small amount of the work of Margaret Tait. The Introduction offers a personal discussion on the profession of Archiving which I revisit in my conclusion. Section One provides a general overview of Margaret Tait’s life and influences. This brief biographical information serves as a background for the more substantial technical discussion in Section Two.

Though I do enjoy Tait’s films and find her work compelling, I should emphasise that I am not concerned with providing a critique of Margaret Tait’s films nor a complete overview of her life and work. I deem that to be a quite different paper and one I am not interested in writing. My main purpose here is to trace the technical developments Tait made in her filmmaking and show how an understanding of her practices can help in the restoration and preservation of her films. I hope this paper also demonstrates that the biographical is inseparable from the technical and for the Archivist, these two approaches to Tait’s work are again inseparable from the ethical and philosophical dimensions of the idea of permanence.

Joss Winn – 27th September 2002. Download a PDF of this dissertation.


Margaret Tait’s films are held by the Scottish Screen Archive. Many are now available to view online.

Margaret Tait Centenary website (2019).

Todd and Cook (eds.) (2004) Subjects & Sequences: A Margaret Tait Reader.

Neely, S. (ed.) (2012) Poems, Stories and Writings by Margaret Tait.

Neely, S. (2016) Between Categories. The Films of Margaret Tait: Portraits, Poetry, Sound and Place

There is a Margaret Tait profile on The Lux website with links to other essays about her work.

Read poetry by Margaret Tait.

An obituary by David Curtis.

Margaret Tait: Film Poet (Trailer for a documentary about Margaret Tait).