Thursday 11 April 2013

Lindsay Anderson film retrospective, Warsaw

Just a quick post to let any readers in Poland, or any readers who happen to be heading to Warsaw next week, that there is a Lindsay Anderson retrospective coming up at the cinema Iluzjon.  It starts Wednesday 17th April and along with screening many films by Lindsay Anderson they are also using material from the Lindsay Anderson Archive at Stirling University, Scotland, to promote the season.

Wish I could be there!

Thursday 7 March 2013

Hell Unltd - rare screening of film by Helen Biggar and Norman McLaren

Glasgow Film Theatre is hosting a really exciting event to mark International Women’s Day to highlight the importance of women artists based in Glasgow to protest movements.  They will be screening Hell Unltd, a film by Helen Biggar and Norman McLaren, with a specially commissioned live score performed by Kim Moore (Zoey van Goey) and Gareth Griffiths.  In addition they’re showing Traces Left (1983) ‘a documentary about the Glasgow art and political scene in the 1930s and 40s’. I only wish I could get up to Glasgow to see it!

Their focus is on Helen Biggar (1909 – 1953), a Glasgow School of Art graduate who in 1936 created the important anti-war film Hell Unltd with Norman McLaren.  The film is a real call-to-action to everyone to actively oppose war and is as effective now, in my view, as it was then.  I know we see images of the horror of war every day and you could say that we’ve become anaesthetised or immune to it but for me this film reminds us all that we can play a part in opposing war, and it brings home the disparities between Government spending on armaments versus education, health, culture etc.  

In childhood Helen Biggar suffered from a number of illnesses but she succeeded in gaining admission to Glasgow School of Art at the age of 16 in 1925.  She worked in filmmaking, sculpture and theatre design and was very involved in politics.  She was part of Glasgow Kino, an organisation I hadn’t heard of before, who toured films to raise funds for the Spanish Republican cause.  From 1938 onwards she designed stage shows for the Glasgow Workers’ Theatre Group. She moved to London in 1945 and from 1950 she was wardrobe mistress and costume designer for Ballet Rambert.  She died, young, of a brain haemorrhage in 1953.* 

Helen Biggar sounds like a fascinating individual and I wish there were more resources about her online. Where is her archive? Why isn’t she better known? Annoyingly some references I’ve found to Hell Unltd refer to it as a ‘Norman McLaren’ film completely ignoring the fact that it was made as one of many collaborations between McLaren and Biggar.  There is a good biography of her on the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography but if you don’t have a subscription for that there is a shortened biography on IMDB.
If you end up going to this event at the GFT I‘d love to hear how it went!

Related archives:
I can’t find any information online about the papers of Helen Biggar, maybe they are at Glasgow School of Art, maybe they are in London somewhere, or maybe they are still with family?
Norman McLaren archive at the University of Stirling Archives
The National Film Board of Canada also has some of Norman McLaren’s films available to watch online  

*Biographical information taken from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Sunday 20 January 2013

New Year resolutions 2013

A very belated Happy New Year to everyone! I have been putting off addressing last year's New Year resolutions as I was so sure I hadn't done very well in fulfilling them.  However looking at them now I've done a bit better than I thought.
  1. Organise my time better, at home and at work - this was really far to vague to have as a resolution.  I've realised I don't have a problem organising my time at work.  The problem is at home -caused by the big box in the corner of the room, the time-eater AKA the TV.  This year I resolve to spend less time watching television and more time doing things - sewing, working on the Registration scheme (see next point), and working on the Lindsay Anderson Memorial Foundation website (relaunch happening soon I hope!).
  2. Sign up for the Archives and Records Association Registration Scheme - Hmmn well to say I haven't done well with this would be an understatement. I started off well and organising a London meet-up of folk on the Registration Scheme.  This went really well but somehow time moved on and I still never got round to starting any of the learning outcomes.  So this year I hope to get started on it.
  3. Get back to reading more non-fiction - Success! I've read a lot more non-fiction - usually autobiographies and biographies but also reportage and women's history. 
  4. Try and visit a new-to-me Cinema/film screening venue once a month - I didn't manage this every month but I have been to a load of new cinemas this year - highlights in London being the Prince Charles Cinema, Pipilotti Rist at the Hayward Gallery, and most recently a visit to the Genesis Cinema.  Outside of London I paid my first visit to the Baker Street cinema in Abergavenny - to see Madagascar 3 with my nieces, a fun experience!
  5. Keep a record of all the films I watch and books I read - Fail! Maybe this year. I did sign back into my Library thing account as I thought this might be an easy way of keeping track of books I read.
  6. Buy less clothes/get back to learning to sew- Success! I'm enjoying learning to sew again and have definitely bought far less clothes. I do post occasional updates on my sewing blog but I'm not very good at taking photos of my creations yet.
  7. Introduce the idea of Analog Sunday's as I saw it on a blog I recently found 'Someday. by Avalonne Hall' Try and have at least 2 a month - I've done this a few times and I do enjoy breaks from using my laptop but I'm not going to stress if I don't manage it all that often.

So this year I'm not going to make any new resolutions, instead I'm going to try harder at number 2, 5 and 6 on my list from last year.  Once I get started on the Archives and Records Association Registration Scheme I'll post some updates here. 

Sunday 4 November 2012

New book on Lindsay Anderson

I'm very excited to share with you that Lindsay Anderson: Cinema Authorship has now been published! This book is one of the outcomes of the project I worked on for three years at Stirling University 'The Cinema Authorship of Lindsay Anderson' and it is so satisfying to see it in print. I'm really enjoying reading back through it and I'm sure it's going to lead to more viewings of his films and lots of happy memories of cataloguing! 

The Lindsay Anderson project was the reason I started this blog way back in February 2009 and I still find it hard to believe sometimes that I got to spend 3 years cataloguing and researching in the Lindsay Anderson Archive - I do love being an archivist!

The book is published by Manchester University Press and is available on Amazon.

Wednesday 3 October 2012

Dreams of wings

A rather whimsical post to ease myself back into my archive related blogging (it's been all about the sewing this summer). I came across this magazine cover (the back cover) when we were doing some recent appraisal work on a large collection. There were some real gems in there and this advert, from a Japanese magazine,  really caught my eye - what does it all mean?! I really can't work it out - the only wings women have that I can think of are from certain sanitary products that I can't imagine men aspire to using! so what? is it just a weird translation? or maybe it means 'men' as 'mankind' and is talking about architecture as a tribute to God and angels? Or could it be to do with the lapels on his jacket?  Any suggestions warmly welcomed.

In a very unprofessional way I forgot to note the date of this magazine, or it's title - but it's too good not to share!

Advert from Japanese magazine