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James Williamson The Big Swallow 1901
1 minute. Collection: BFI National Film & Television Archive
Use of the Film – by Basil Wright (uk)
James Williamson was a chemist based in Hove. This early ‘trick’ film features a Victorian gentleman objecting to being photographed. As the man’s head comes closer (with, for the time, a sophisticated adjustment of focus), he opens his mouth and engulfs the photographer. Many early films explored the point of view in similar playful ways.

James Williamson was born in Scotland in 1885. He had a chemist’s shop in Hove near G A Smith’s pleasure garden. From processing films, he moved fully into the business of exhibition, and from 1897 began shooting a few films of his own. By 1910, he had ceased production, to concentrate on manufacturing film equipment. He died in 1938.

Eduardo Paolozzi: Writings and Interviews (uk)

Experimental Cinema in the Digital Age – by Malcom LeGrice (uk)

  Films d’art/films sur l’art (fr.)
Basil Wright Song of Ceylon 1934
38 minutes. Collection: BFI National Film & Television Archive
Song of Ceylon was commissioned by the Government-funded Empire Marketing Board to promote tea from a source within the Empire. Basil Wright understood that the Singhalese belief-system he was recording would soon be eroded, not least by the trade he was promoting. He underlines its fragility by using a traveller’s 1640 account of the island as the film’s sole commentary. He later described his experience of making the film as ‘a religious epiphany’.

Basil Wright was born in 1907. He worked with John Grierson from 1929, but claimed he acquired his artist’s ‘eye’ from the American documentary maker Robert Flaherty. He worked on Night Mail in  1936 and many of the most innovative documentaries of the pre-War period, and was director of the Crown Film Unit in its final years. He later taught at the University of California, and at the National Film School in London. His writings include The Use of Film 1948 and The Long View 1972. The film prize of the Royal Anthropological Institute is named after him. He died in 1987.
Eduardoo Paolozzi - History of Nothing 1963  
Edouardo Paolozzi History of Nothing 1963
12 minutes. Collection: BFI National Film & Television Archive
‘The history of man can be written with objects,’ wrote Edouardo Paolozzi in one of hundreds of notes for History of Nothing in 1960. Like his paintings and sculptures of the time, the film draws on the influential collection of ‘Pop’ imagery assembled by Paolozzi during the 1950s, and shown as slides at meetings of the Independent Group of artists and designers.

Sir Edouardo Paolozzi was born in Scotland in 1924. He studied at Edinburgh College of Art, completed National Service, then studied at St Martins School of Art and Slade School of Art, London. He moved to Paris, then taught textile design at the Central School of Art, London. A founder member of The Independent Group 1952, his slide projections of found imagery Bunk could be described as the source book of Pop art. This magpie collection also found a natural outlet in animated films, of which Paolozzi made three with different collaborators.
After Manet - Malcolm le Grice 1973
Malcolm LeGrice After Manet 1973
53 minutes. Collection: Artist
Re-working the theme of the celebrated painting by Edouard Manet of a lunch party on the grass, Malcolm Le Grice questions ‘the conceptual relationship of the camera to the scene in spatial terms’. Over four screens, he explores cinema’s palette — positive and negative, black and white and colour, silence and sound, static and moving camera — and demands that the viewer construct their own synthesis of the scene from these views.

Malcolm Le Grice was born in 1940. He studied at Slade School of Art, London. He founded the London Filmmakers’ Co-op workshop in the late 1960s, at the same time introducing film to fine art students at St Martins School of Art and Goldsmith’s College, London. He has balanced his continuing practice as a filmmaking artist with campaigning for the artform in print, in his books Abstract Film and Beyond 1977 and Experimental Cinema in the Digital Age (BFI) 2001, in higher education, and in committees at the British Film Institute and the Arts Council. His most recent works have been digital video installations


To Pour Milk into a Glass - David Lamelas 1973  
David Lamelas To Pour Milk Into a Glass 1973
8 minutes. Collection: BFI National Film & Television Archive Courtesy the artist.
Many of David Lamelas’s works are exercises designed to test how meaning is constructed in film. ‘I wanted to find symbols for ‘container’ and ‘contents’ – to represent how the camera frames – and what is shown on screen. ..I decided to use a glass and milk. The eight sequences end with… the glass being shattered and the milk splattering all over the table, which implies that there is no way to contain information’. 2001

David Lamelas was born in Buenos Aires in 1946. He studied at the Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes and St Martins School of Art. He exhibited film installations at Prospect 71 Düsseldorf 1971 and Nigel Greenwood and Jack Wendler Galleries in London from 1972. He moved to California in 1974 and now lives in Berlin and Los Angeles. He recently recommenced video making.
Osborn Steels Ltd Bradford - Darcy Lange 1974  
Darcy Lange Osborn Steels Ltd Bradford 1974 (section)
10 minute section: Furnaces – Charlie Helps, Alan Wright and Harry Barraclough
Collection: Industrial Museum Bradford, courtesy Ian Ward.
As a New Zealander, Darcy Lange’s studies of working life reflected his fascination with British class and power structures. In 30-minute sequences, he observed the eating habits of middle and working class families, their behaviour at home and at school. His studies of work in Bradford’s factories ‘became performance analysis; they searched the monotony of the work, they questioned the workload and the suffering due to the work’.

Darcy Lange was born in New Zealand in 1945. He studied at the University of Auckland and the Royal College of Art, London. Clay portraits of Irish Road Workers (1971) were followed by film, video and photographic studies (shot simultaneously) of people from contrasting social classes. From 1973 he made studies of workers in Nottingham, Bradford, London, Scotland and Spain, and of teachers in Birmingham and Oxford, exhibiting at the Jack Wendler Gallery (London). He returned to New Zealand in 1977, starting a new series Artists at Work in 1998.
John Smith The Girl Chewing Gum 1976
12 minutes. Collection: Lux
In a film made 16 years before Gargantuan shown earlier in this sequence, John Smith causes viewers to doubt the expected authority of the voice-over.

John Smith was born in 1952. He studied at Hornsey College of Art, North East London Polytechnic and the Royal College of Art. He teaches at University of East London and Central St Martins. Smith’s early wry takes on structural film have given way to works that blend documentary and elements of fiction and introspection; his wit equally apparent in image and word.
You be Mother - Sarah Pucill, 1990  
Sarah Pucill You Be Mother 1990
8 minutes. Collection: Lux
A still life of a teaset penetrated by projected images provides Sarah Pucill with a form of self-portraiture. In the artist’s words ‘the film is an expression of the complexities of breaking free from sexual and familial stereotypical roles and behaviour patterns.’

Sarah Pucill was born in 1961. She studied at Manchester Metropolitan University, the Slade School of Art and the University of East London. Pucill makes photographic works as well as films, preferring the close-up to the long-shot. Her imagery is strongly-rooted in feminist theory, but combines this with a direct appeal to the senses
Eyelashes - Jaki Irvine, 1996  
Jaki Irvine Eyelashes 1996
6 minutes. Collection: Frith Street Gallery
Jaki Irvine’s film tells two stories at the same time. Her images observe a couple talking over a breakfast table, perhaps discussing their relationship. On the soundtrack, a woman’s voice describes a man’s obsession with (another?) woman’s eyelashes, which make him uneasy. The viewers’ task is to look for conjunctions and attempt a synthesis; in effect to construct their own ‘interior drama’.

Jaki Irvine was born in Dublin in 1966. She studied at Dublin School of Art and Goldsmith College of Art, London. Irvine’s films are almost always shot on the amateur gauge of Super8, and have the appearance of fragments from longer narratives. They are sometimes further deconstructed by being shown as installations, with different sections on separate screens, so viewers have to assemble the work for themselves. She lives in Dublin and Italy.