“The Eye Hears, The Ear Sees” // Leah Millar

Aug.11 2014

Posted by Connect/Exchange

My visit to Edinburgh has serendipitously been in time to take in the best of McLaren2014, a series of events, screenings and exhibitions across Scotland to mark the centenary of Norman McLaren’s birth.

McLaren was a visionary artist film-maker, whose work is representative of both contemporary and historical practice in the Moving Image.  In a 1940 edition of Documentary Film News, he is quoted as follows: “I get a distinct pleasure from making a film out of as little as possible in the way of money, equipment and time. …Limited means…stimulate the imagination to new directions of thinking and film making.”   Not surprisingly, this strikes a chord with me, and as someone who often works directly with film stock and scratch chemistry (out of a desire to have direct contact with a process and admitted economic necessity), it is thrilling to see such inventive work conducted on similar principles.


An exhibition in the Talbot Rice Gallery has been timed to complement the centenary.  ’Hand-Made Cinema: Norman McLaren’ is a method centred look at McLaren’s films, and is partnered with a show of recent works by Jason Dee.   I very much recommend a visit to both.  The Talbot Rice Gallery and University of Edinburgh are curating workshops, roundtables and symposia to complement McLaren2014.  I attended the first, a  event entitled “The Eye Hears, the Ear Sees” Symposium: Music, Animation, and Experimental Film.  Four speakers presented a range of viewpoints from which to discuss McLaren’s work – it has been food for thought, and I’m working on a written response at the moment.

This weekend I went across to Glasgow to attend another McLaren2014 event, co-curated by CCA and LUX Critical forum, “Animation in Context: Screening and discussion”.  My Connect-Exchange colleague Tom Walker worked very hard in the organisation of the day, which was pretty impressive, presenting a varied program of work and genuinely pushing the boundaries of my understanding of animation.  It was great to catch-up with him, and also see a solo exhibition of cinematic works by Rachel McLean currently at CCA.   We were lucky enough to see one of these (‘Please, Sir…’) in progress when we visited Rachel in her studio back in April, but it was fairly mind-blowing to see the scale and detail of the finished result.  ’Happy and Glorious’ runs until Sunday 13th July, and is highly recommended!

I’m here in Stills for most of June, editing archive footage and working on the sequencing of my film.  Back in Newcastle, my animation and 16mm film segments have been progressing, but I haven’t developed the film yet (it’s ‘in the can’) so I’m keeping mum about that until I see what I’ve got!