One such event was a performance of the short films Seven Till Five, which documents a day’s activities in the art school, Camera Makes Whoopee – an amusing account the preparation and event of a student ball – and Hell Unlimited accompanied by the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra. Providing a truly unique performance this event started with a talk that highlighted the techniques and traits that McLaren’s work became known for (in particular his innovative use of animation) and exposed a new audience to the work of an alumni of the school.
Running from the 11th April to the end of the Commonwealth Games on the 3rd August here you will find a programme of events that will show McLaren’s work and give you the opportunity to try your hand at it too.
University of Stirling Archives have recently blogged about a new accession of material to their Norman McLaren Archive, consisting of a set of 64 letters, letter-cards and postcards sent by McLaren to his friend (and fellow filmmaker) Helen Biggar in 1936 and 1937. You might remember from our previous post about Helen Biggar, the two met while studying at the Glasgow School of Art, and in 1936 they made the anti-war film Hell Unltd which was recently shown at the Glasgow Film Theatre.
McLaren’s letters to Biggar detail the film’s planning, editing, promotion and distribution. A letter written on 21 April 1936 captures McLaren’s excitement at a moment of creative inspiration:
“Oh Helen – it happened at 7 o’clock tonight – it burst forth like a torrent – a perfect welter and wealth of hot ideas and arrangement and everything – in fact the complete film just gushed from my subconscious mind in great detail – gee its marvelous – our new film…”
Examples of the letters and postcards sent by Norman McLaren to Helen Biggar. Courtesy University of Stirling Archives
Tonight sees the rare screening of Hell Unltd, a film by acclaimed director Norman McLaren and less well known director and fellow GSA alumnus Helen Biggar.
Kim Moore (Zoey van Goey) was commissioned to create a live score to accompany the screening
Glasgow School of Art graduate Helen Biggar (1909–1953) created one of the UK’s most influential anti-war films with Norman McLaren just as the Spanish Civil War began. Hell Unltd (1936) is presented for the first time with a specially commissioned live score performed by Kim Moore (Zoey van Goey) and Gareth Griffiths. Kim Moore visited the Archives and Collections Centre recently to research Helen Biggar using materials from the School’s institutional archives. She also got to see some of Biggar’s work (2 pieces (pictured below) have recently been donated to the Archives and Collections by a family member).
Fawn by Helen Biggar, c1930s
Maime Biggar, the artist’s younger sister, c1945
The live performance will be preceded by a rare screening of Traces Left (1983), a documentary about the Glasgow art and political scene in the 1930s and 40s, which focuses in particular on Helen Biggar.
The event marks International Women’s Day and the contribution of women artists in Glasgow. For more information, visit the GFT event page or this really good blog.