Family Portrait (4 stars)

Family Portrait

Capturing a family at play and in nature through Natasha Gilmore's video installation Fringe work

Ironically, even though Family Portrait is viewed on four giant screens, it captures the joy of doing the exact opposite. Filmed over several months during the pandemic, this heartwarming video installation takes us to the heart of our natural world. As we sit on swivel stools, shifting our gaze from screen to screen, we're reminded of the fun and contentment to be had without a phone, iPad or Nintendo Switch in your hand.

With her 2020 international tour postponed, Barrowland Ballet's artistic director Natasha Gilmore looked closer to home for an artistic outlet. Enlisting the help of her three adorable children – Otis (ten), Iggy (nine) and Frieda (five) – and a crack creative team, she headed to the forests and lakes of the Scottish Highlands. At first, all we see are trees, tall and lush. Then, one by one, the hosts leading us on this vicarious scenic journey peep out from behind the trunks, calling and cooing like birds. As each child embraces the forest, their personalities begin to emerge. Otis, the elder brother, carries an air of sensible responsibility yet freely admits to being scared of pretty much everything. Middle-child Iggy is out for fun, while little Frieda is determined to bury her mum in any available material, from bark to stone.

As the seasons change, and sunshine turns to snow, we see them climb trees, hop across stones on the water, cuddle and fight. Most of all, we see a lot of love. Choreographed scenes of closeness between parent and child are peppered throughout, often involving Gilmore carrying all three offspring in her arms. It's during those moments that any sense we are viewing family life through rose-coloured spectacles falls away. Raising young children has many points of wonderment, but it's also relentless in its demands. Single parenthood even more so, and Gilmore's abstract yet palpable depiction of weariness (balancing enormous branches on her back, attempting a moment of peace in a bathtub) is a resonant counterbalance to all the forest fun and tenderness.

Family Portrait, Dance Base, until Sunday 22 August, various times throughout the day, £5–£20 Pay What You Can.

Barrowland Ballet: Family Portrait

  • 4 stars

An interactive installation work that combines choreography, video and imagery to produce an intimate portrait of family life and its responsibilities, joys and love, centred around Barrowland Ballet's Artistic Director Natasha Gilmore and her three children.