Barrowland Ballet's interactive Family Portrait

Published: 2 May 2021
Reporter: Vera Liber

Family Portrait Credit: Barrowland Ballet

Family Portrait, an interactive video installation capturing Barrowland Ballet’s Artistic Director, Natasha Gilmore, and her three children, will be performed in May and June at Glasgow's Tramway and Edinburgh's Assembly Roxy (for Edinburgh International Children’s Festival).

It will run on the hour and last for 35 minutes on four screens for one extended household at a time, with the audience able to move their focus from one screen to another. It shows the family through choreographed sequences and more candid moments as they encounter rabbit skulls, converse with spiders, make warpaint with berries and bury their mother in bark in the different landscapes of Scotland.

In 2020, Natasha Gilmore had planned to take her children out of school for the academic year and, as a family, they would join Barrowland Ballet on a world tour. During this time, she planned to work with local artists in different places around the world to create Family Portrait as a video installation piece. She joined Robbie Synge in the Scottish Highlands to do a week’s research and development and establish a concise remit for the artists with whom she would be working within the different locations.

Then COVID-19 hit, and the project had to be re-imagined. Gilmore decided to set the whole thing in rural Scotland and to connect with Scottish-based artists. Family Portrait was filmed outdoors and is performed by her ‘family unit’ so she was able to continue with the project during lockdown.