Category Archives: Artists in the Family

“BB” by Kate Burton, Glasgow filmmaker, at London Short Film Festival.


Poster For ‘BB’ Written and Directed by Kate Burton. Poster Design by Jen Davies

My daughter Kate has recently attended the London Short Film Festival where her latest film “BB” is showing.  The film was also selected by the Glasgow Short Film Festival and the Inverness Film Festival, and was nominated for Channel 4 innovation in storytelling award 2015.

The action starts with a bee buzzing around, the synopsis  reads “When Anna discovers an unwelcome intruder in her home she enlists the help of her mild mannered neighbour.  Frank enters into Anna’s strange and chaotic world and finds himself well removed from his comfort zone.  Amusingly awkward social challenges follow and an unlikely relationship is formed.”

The film was shot in Kate’s previous flat in Glasgow, and in the local area.  She was determined to make the film before she left.

Joanne Thomson in the Kate's flat, featured in "BB", short film by Kate Burton, Glasgow, 2015..

Joanne Thomson in Kate’s flat, featured in “BB”, short film by Kate Burton, Glasgow filmmaker, 2015. Photograph by Helena Ohman

I asked Kate to give me the background to the film. 

“At the time I wrote the script I was living in a small one bedroom flat in a Victorian townhouse conversion in the west end of Glasgow.  The ceilings were high and there was a split level mezzanine where I worked and completed the script.

There was a huge rose garden opposite the flat and in the summer confused bumble bees would fly inside my flat and roll up into fuzzy balls on my window ledge.  This and many other elements of my surrounding environment fed into the content of the script.”

Kate Burton watches as David Liddell and Helen Ohman McCardle take a close up for "BB", a film by Kate Burton, Glasgow.

Kate Burton director, David Liddell cinematographer and Hannah Kelso assistant camera on the set of  “BB”, a film by Kate Burton, Glasgow. Photograph by Helena Ohman

“I knew the characters very well after a lengthy development time, but the story for the short came relatively fast and after two months writing, in between filmmaking jobs, I was finally ready to let other people read it.

‘BB’ is a character driven story capturing the awkwardness of first attractions.  It takes place mainly in one location.  I wanted the cinematography and style to reflect the simplicity of the story and I decided that I wanted to shoot in black and white to give a heightened feel, emphasising the unique lines of the interior space.  I was interested in long duration takes and capturing physical and theatrical comedy within the frame.  Some of my research references were Woody Allen’s ‘Annie Hall’ and ‘Manhattan’, ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ by Blake Edwards and ‘Francis Ha’ by Noah Baumbach.”


Kate Burton, writer/director, on set of ‘BB’ 2015.

Ben Clifford and Joanne Thomson in "BB", as short film by Kate Burton, Glasgow, 2015.

Ben Clifford and Joanne Thomson in “BB”, by Kate Burton, Glasgow filmmaker, 2015. Still from film. 

One of Kate’s earlier films was “The Ice Plant”.  I thought that this was a strange title until she told me that it was about ice cubes and that her research led her to  Highland Ice Ltd, a factory in Aberdeen which makes ice cubes, which kindly agreed to let her film there.  She has a good photo of the film crew standing around in woolly hats and scarves.

ice plant still 04


The Ice Plant

Festivals showing “The Ice Plant” were – Edinburgh International, Glasgow International, Clemont Ferrand International, Seattle International Film Festival, preceding a feature presentation at the GFT Glasgow.

Current television period dramas “War and Peace” and “Dickensian”, featuring Tuppence Middleton, have reminded me of a film Kate made in 2010, “Ever Here I Be”, a 16 minute ‘Digicult’ Film, UK Film Council & Scottish Screen.  Shown at Edinburgh International Film Festival, Nashville International Film Festival, Palm Springs Short Film Festival , Portabello Film Festival London and Inverness Film Festival Scotland. 


Tuppence Middleton, Ever Here I Be, photograph by Janet Johnstone

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Ever Here I Be Master -

Ever Here I Be starred Tuppence Middleton and Christopher Simpson and was nominated for the Underwire ‘Best Female Character’ award 2012.

Kate was a talented artist from a very young age and it was a delight to watch her progress.

She went to Allerton Grange High School in Leeds, where Damien Hirst was a former pupil, and then completed a Foundation course in Fine Art at the Leeds College of Art and Design, where she increasingly studied film.  Kate then moved to Glasgow in 1999 to study Environmental Art at Glasgow School of Art, during which she went on exchange to Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston to study filmmaking.

Kate graduated in 2002 and has written and directed a number of shorts, documentary and promotional films.  These include several commissions from Glasgow School of Art to make documentaries and promotional films for them.

Kate has a passion for film education and has taught filmmaking and screenwriting to children and young people for the past 8 years through Into Film, Project Ability Glasgow, Glasgow Film, Edinburgh Filmhouse, Glasgow Media Access Centre and Visible Fictions theatre Company.

Her website is  which highlights all her main films.  You can watch many, such as “Mrs Pickering’s Music Cabinet”, 2015, where Helen McCook, Artisan Embroidery & Artist, has been requested to reproduce the lost textile screen to go into an original Rennie Mackintosh cabinet.

Kate is currently working on an outline for her first feature film script.


Winding Number Theory and Continuous Line Drawing


Whirlpool in Space, or Petrol Poluted Puddle. Spherical continuous line with repeat colour sequence with Rainbow colours.  Mick Burton, Continuous Line, 1971.

Whirlpool in Space, or Petrol polluted Puddle. Spherical single continuous line drawing with repeat colour sequence with Rainbow colours. Mick Burton, Continuous Line, 1971.

This painting was one of two pictures hung at the Chelsea Painters Open Exhibition, held at the Chenil Galleries, Chelsea,1971.  I walked along the Kings Road looking for the gallery (I had submitted through and agency) and it was great to see the Whirlpool first in a window by the entrance.

The design was triggered by a browse through mathematics books in the library and coming across Winding Number Theory.  This used a continuous line and every time the line was drawn winding in a counter-clockwise direction a level was added and if you wound back in a clockwise direction a level was taken off.

So far, in my colour sequence numbering based upon Alternate Overdraw, I had not had a sequence of colours greater than about nine.  If I used the Winding Number method and continued to wind around counter-clockwise many times I could have a long colour sequence.  I went a bit mad with the Whirlpool, which was done on a spherical basis (allowing drawing out of one side of the paper and back in at the opposite side), and has a sequence of 20.

I did not simply go from light to dark over the whole 20 (the steps in shade between each colour would have been too small), but oscillated up and down with a smaller range of colours similar to a rainbow.  I had seen the rainbow effect produced by sunlight on petrol spilt on a puddle.

Alternate overdraw with colour sequence numbers.  Continuous Line, Mick Burton.

Alternate overdraw with colour sequence numbers. Continuous Line, Mick Burton.

To illustrate the difference between my Alternate Overdraw and the Winding Number, I start with the Alternate Overdraw in Red on the left.  As shown in earlier posts, each channel of areas between overdraws has two numbers alternately.  You move naturally up to a higher channel or down to a lower channel, through the red line and continue the numbering.

As before, you start with “0” on the outside and 0 can also appear within the drawing.



When we come to Winding Number allocation, we can use the same basic drawing with little arrows showing the direction it has been drawn.  It can be either direction of course, but I have chosen one which will match the result above.

Winding number allocation.  Continuous Line, Mick Burton.

Winding number allocation. Continuous Line, Mick Burton.

Starting at “0” for the outside, if we cross to another area through a counter-clockwise border for that area, it will be a level higher.  If we cross through a clockwise line we reach a lower area.

Here the + areas are of course higher levels and the (-) areas are lower.

The numbering matches the Alternate Overdraw illustration above.



Now, just to show the initial thrust of the drawing for the Whirlpool, with many levels, the next illustration shows a line spiralling from the centre outwards and I have shown just 13 winds.

Part of initial Winding Number spiral for Whirlpool  painting.  Mick Burton, continuous line.

Part of initial Winding Number spiral for the Whirlpool in Space painting.    Mick Burton, single continuous line drawing.

Then I have drawn a line from the centre of the spiral directly back to the bottom of the picture as the first phase of breaking up the spiral so that lots more areas start to  appear.  The next such phase is a meandering line near the top of the picture. 

As I have said, this is a shorter version than the one usd for the main Whirlpool in Space picture above.

Next I have decided that the direction of  the line will be counter-clockwise starting from the bottom of the spiral, so that the levels go up towards the centre.  The numbers have then been added.

On the original painting, which is 24″ x 20″, I used alternate overdraw to allocate the colours.  This was because I was used to using that method and I think it is better for an artist anyway.  The Winding Number theory was simply the inspiration for producing a sequence of 20 or more.

Now, to go off at a tangent, I am interested in other artists in the family who keep coming to light.  As part of my research into my mother’s family, the Mace’s from Bedale (from 1825) and much earlier from Cambridge, I have come across a book by Thomas Mace called “Musick’s Monument” published originally in 1676.  It was published again about six years ago.  Amongst his own illustrations within the book is this one of a spiral depicting his idea of God’s world.


“Mysterious Centre of All Mysterie…” in Musick’s Monument, by Thomas Mace, 1676. Continuous Line, Mick Burton.


Thomas was a famous composer of the 17th century, and craftsman who made lutes and viols, whose main job was a chorister at Trinity College, Cambridge.

To add to this “sort of” co-incidence, my Uncle Harry Mace from Bedale, North Yorkshire, was a joiner and builder.  When he retired he started to make old style instruments, such as viols, and sold them to a music shop in Leeds.  I am sure he did not know about Thomas of Cambridge.

Thomas was not too impressed with a relatively new instrument in his time, the violin.