The days never seem the same: Gunnie Moberg and Margaret Tait
- David Pollock
- 10 September 2018
Two artists who share a deep connection with Orkney are brought together to make a distinctive visual archive
In it's effort to explore more photographic work held in collections and archives around Scotland, the Stills Gallery has alighted upon two artists whose work bears similar geographic concerns and placed them alongside one another. Gunnie Moberg and Margaret Tait both had a deep connection to Orkney, and seeing their work together creates a distinctive visual archive which isn't always related to the islands, but which reflects in each part a kind of shared visual simplicity. One might imagine – although it would be debatable – that each is connected to the relative simplicity of island life.
Gunnie Moberg, who died in 2007, was a Swedish photographer who made her home on Orkney and was the photographer-in-residence for the St Magnus Festival from its beginnings in 1977. Here, her work is spread around the walls of the opening room and reveals a wealth of subject matter. The pin-sharp monochrome of her early photographs of Orkney – of helicopters flying overhead and Stromness fishermen, and aerial shots of monuments like Cubbie Roo's Castle and the Old Lighthouse on North Ronaldsay – also lends itself to casual mid-80s portraits of figures including Liz Lochhead and Alasdair Gray, playfully balancing a book atop his head.
Moberg's colour work, meanwhile, encompasses literary figures including Seamus Heaney, Irvine Welsh, Maya Angelou and Angela Carter, as well as nature photography of Orkney's flowers and dramatic images of the islands' coastline. Margaret Tait, meanwhile – who was born, lived most of her life and died in 1999 on Orkney, with time out in Italy and Edinburgh – was most well-known as a filmmaker and writer, and a nearly two-hour selection of her meditative short films, which use the landscape of Orkney as their backdrop, can be seen in a screening room here. A selection of her photographic work also appears, not on the walls, but in a digital archive of her notebooks which gives an additional sense of fullness to the show.
Stills Gallery, Edinburgh, until Sun 28 Oct