The Arbor

The Arbor is part of The Artangel Collection. Following its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York in April 2011, The Arbor was screened at cinemas across the UK. It has since been seen at Plymouth Arts Centre in Autumn 2012, at Tate Britain in February 2014 and at ICA in September 2015.

  • Artist: Clio Barnard
  • Title: The Arbor
  • Date: 2010
  • Medium: Digital Video
  • Dimensions: Overall display dimensions variable
  • Duration: 94 minutes 
The overall effect is devastating, as multi-layered and dissonant as a Schoenberg symphony, and a nightmarish impression of how the writer experienced both reality and performance. Barnard’s original vision was justly rewarded with the best new documentary filmmaker prize. — Sebastian Doggart, The Telegraph, 21 May 2012

Andrea Dunbar, the tenacious young playwright whose work was described as ‘Thatcher's Britain with its knickers down', grew up on the notorious Buttershaw Estate in Bradford. It was on this estate that she wrote her three plays 'The Arbor', 'Rita, Sue and Bob Too' and 'Shirley', had her three children, and died prematurely, at the age of 29, in 1990.  Her eldest daughter Lorraine was just 10 years old when her mother died, and by 29 had also had 3 children, and had been imprisoned. Clio Barnard's film 'The Arbor' follows Lorraine's personal journey as she is introduced to her mother’s plays and letters. Artist and director Clio Barnard (who also grew up in the Bradford region) spent two years interviewing members of the Dunbar family and local residents before creating an audio 'screenplay' that was lip-synched by actors. The result, as Peter Bradshaw wrote in The Guardian, is ‘a new kind of 'verbatim cinema' ... a modernist, compassionate biopic.'


Video: the trailer for Clio Barnard, The Arbor, 2010.

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At the ICA

London, 8 September 2015

The Arbor was shown alongside Barnard's Random Acts of Intimacy, 1998 as part of Onwards and Outwards, a nationwide programme of screenings, talks, and events, which examined the conditions of production women face when using the moving image as a means of expression.


Image: Still of Clio Barnard, The Arbor, 2010

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at Tate Britain

London, 9 February 2014

The Arbor was screened at Tate Britain in February 2014 as part of 'Assembly', a major survey of internationally acclaimed single-screen artists’ film and video. Including the work of more than eighty artists, the series explored the increasing popularity of artists’ film and video over the preceding decade, and championed internationally acclaimed single-screen work made over the last five years.


Image: Still of Clio Barnard, The Arbor, 2010

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at Plymouth Arts Centre

Plymouth, 8 September - 11 November 2012

Clio Barnard's The Arbor was screened as part of the group exhibition 'Artangel at Sea' at Plymouth Arts Centre in the autumn of 2012. Presented alongside Jeremy Deller's The Battle of Orgreave and Yael Bartana's And Europe Will Be Stunned, these films all feature communities ridden with conflict, and explore the boundary between drama and documentary, in works of extraordinary imagination and power.


Image: The BBC's 'Arena' about Andrea Dunbar shown at the Plymouth Arts Centre in 2012. Photograph: Dom Moore

Previous Presentations

Since the launch of The Artangel Collection, The Arbor has been screened at: