Close Up

16 November 2019: Refuge


We're pleased to present a programme of films on curated by Peter Todd to explore the theme of "refuge". Featuring films by Joanna Margaret Paul, Margaret Tait, Robert Vas, Luke Fowler, Anthea Kennedy, Leah Millar, Peter Todd, and Sarah Wood, with poems read by Stephen Watts.  

"A programme of films themed around finding a place to be, of refuge, of home, which can of course be various, by choice, by necessity, and in-between these two. Refuge England, a Free Cinema film made in 1950s London provides a starting point. The programme also includes work by Margaret Tait in this last month of the year long celebrations marking her birth one of which Garden Pieces was her last film and reflects the importance of her garden and the natural world as a place of refuge. I hope the films all get their space, and the resonances between them, and this occasion provides a unique experience." – Peter Todd  

Introduced by Peter Todd with filmmakers Anthea Kennedy, Leah Millar, and Sarah Wood.  

Refuge England
Robert Vas, 1959, 27 min, 16mm  

"The film records the experiences of a Hungarian refugee arriving in London with no English, little money and with his only prospect of help an incomplete address written on a postcard. The director's own experiences – Vas himself came to London as a refugee in 1956 – give the film an authenticity in its portrayal of the protagonist's conflicting responses to his new environment: isolation and wonder, despair and hope. Refuge England is also a unique record of London in the late 1950s, from Waterloo to the West End to the semi-detached houses of suburbia, seen through the enquiring and impartial eyes of an outsider"’ – Christophe Dupin  

Mum’s Cards
Luke Fowler, 2018, 9'03 min

"My mother is a Sociologist – she came to Glasgow from the south of England in the 60’s to work within the Politics Department of Glasgow University – after a few years the Sociologists broke away and formed their own department, where she taught until she retired. Although the university advocated and furnished her with her own personal computer – she still used index cards to make notes on the books and articles that she read. Now that she no longer has an office her house is filled with shoeboxes and filing cabinets containing these cards. My mother was absent on the day that I shot this film; the interview and sounds were recorded at a later date" – Luke Fowler  

Jillian Dressing
Joanna Margaret Paul, 1976, 2'30 min  

Filmed in a mirror, in silhouette, a woman preparing for the day.*

Margaret Tait, 1974, 4 min, 16mm  

"Touches on elemental images: air, water (and snow), earth, fire (and smoke), all come into it. The track consists of a drawn out musical sound, single piano notes and some neutral sounds." – Margaret Tait  

"Here’s a tiny poem of the relentlessness and beauty all around us, I would say unnoticed, but the point of a Tait film is the noticing." –  Ali Smith  

A Recipe for Magical Projection
Leah Millar, 2018, 6'53 min  

"Made in and of a community garden in Whitley Bay, where I found children and their pets playing in on a small patch of land between houses. Their families watched closely from the sidelines, maintaining a safe space for daring tree climbs, potion making and make believe. Film footage was hand-developed using locally harvested rosemary and is interspersed with animation in a narrative of ritual, play, protection and growth. Thanks to the spell-casters and their animal familiars." – Leah Millar  

Garden Pieces
Margaret Tait, 1998, 12 min  

Tait’s last film. A set of three film poems composed around the theme of the garden – the central one featuring hand scratched animated drawings.  

The Bag of a Thousand Pockets
Anthea Kennedy, 2002, 8 min  

""My bag has a thousand pockets. In each one is a memory." So says my father as he reels off brief and fragmented recollections of his life in Germany." – Anthea Kennedy  

Sarah Wood, 2016, 7 min 
Text/voice Ali Smith

"Azure is the colour of the sky on a clear summer’s day. Azure is a colour that suggests openness, ease, possibility. Azure is the name of the card given to the people who arrive in Britain seeking asylum." – Sarah Wood  

Peter Todd, 2018, 3 min, 16mm  

"Cups on a sunlit table. Flowers and tomatoes in a garden. A view through a window. Views of the sea. Plates on a sunlit table. A few of the sequence of images." – Peter Todd 

Total runtime: ca 90 min

*In fond memory of Jane Paul film archivist – 19 January 1958 Hamilton, New Zealand - 13 November 2018 Wellington, New Zealand  

With thanks to Gareth Evans for his programme at the Whitechapel Gallery also called Refuge 8th Feb 2018, to Sarah Christian, Luke Fowler, Magdalena Harris and the Paul family, Anthea Kennedy, Leah Millar, the late Alex Pirie, the late Margaret Tait, Sarah Wood, BFI, LUX, MT100, Refugee Tales, and to Camille, Damien, and Oliver at Close-Up.  

Peter Todd curated the Film Poems screening at Close-Up in April this year. Last year he curated the season Rhythm and Poetry the Films of Margaret Tait at BFI Southbank to mark the centenary of her birth. Collaborative projects have included programmes with Guy Sherwin and Ute Aurand at Close-Up. His films are with LUX. His piece of writing On Showing a Film Some Thoughts and Voices can be found on the Vertigo magazine archive.