About Martin Laird

Martin Laird with Monet's waterlilies. Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris, 2019.
Consider the lilies! Martin Laird with Monet’s waterlilies. Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris, 2019.

Biography

Martin Scott Laird is an Orcadian artist. He is the son of the late Keith Laird, also an artist (and head of Kirkwall Grammar School art department). It has been suggested that Martin was reading about French Impressionism when other children were watching ‘Thundercats‘. Many a true word was said in jest!

Yesnaby, screenprint by Keith Laird, 1973.
Yesnaby. Screenprint by Keith Laird, 1973.

Martin studied drawing and painting at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen, and later obtained a degree in architecture from the Scott Sutherland School (RGU), where he gained experience with 3d and graphic design software. He continues to work in both traditional and digital media.

Since 2012 Martin’s work has been increasingly political in nature. This is motivated by a sense of injustice and growing awareness of the democratic deficit faced by people living in Scotland. From 2017 onwards, he has contributed cartoons exploring various aspects of Orcadian history and culture alongside social criticism for The Orkney News and iScot magazine.

In 2019 Martin combined hand painted artwork with digital animation in ‘A Gude Cause maks a Strong Erm‘, the story of the Orcadian Woman’s Suffrage Society (written by Fiona Grahame and produced by The Orkney News). This short film won the award for Most Creative/Original film at the 2019 Scottish Short Film Festival and received the honour of being chosen for the “coups de coeur” selection at the Paris International Animation and Film Festival.

In 2021, with the writer Fiona Grahame Martin also released an illustrated history book, Rebel Orkney, which tells both well-known and lesser-known tales of political upheaval in Orkney from the time of St. Magnus in the 12th Century to the uranium mining protests of the late 1970s. Fiona and Martin also regularly collaborate with Northlight Gallery on annual charitable exhibitions held in association with St. Andrews Fair Saturday.

In recent times Martin has been finding artistic inspiration in Scottish history, folklore, and music.

Exhibitions and film festivals

The Loft Workshop & Gallery, St. Margaret’s Hope, August – September 2021
The Fairy Dance. Preview of artwork from a forthcoming animation.

Hoy Community Church, Apr. 2020-2021
HMS Pheasant: who were the lost men and boys? An exhibition was installed in remembrance of the men who died aboard HMS Pheasant in Orkney in 1917.

Northlight Gallery, Stromness, November 2020
The Rousay Clearances – Exodus from the Egypt of the North. This exhibition was held in association with St. Andrews Fair Saturday, raising funds for the Orkney Rape and Sexual Assault Service. The subject was the Rousay Clearances, which saw the population of Rousay fall from 1118 to the approximately 200 it is today.

Northlight Gallery, Stromness, November 2019
HMS Pheasant 1917. Exhibition held in remembrance of the men who died aboard HMS Pheasant in Orkney in 1917. This exhibition was held in association with St. Andrews Fair Saturday, raising funds for the Orkney Rape and Sexual Assault Service. Part of an ongoing project with the goal of creating a documentary film.

Northlight Gallery, Stromness, September 2019
Wrong on Every Level – an exhibition of cartoons relating to Orcadian history and culture.

The World of Film International Festival, Glasgow – September 2019
A Gude Cause maks a Strong Erm
was shown at this festival which showcases the work of independent and first-time directors.

Women Over Fifty Film Festival, Lewes, Sussex – September 2019
A Gude Cause maks a Strong Erm was shown and featured prominently in trailers and print in England.

Paris International Animation Film Festival (PIAFF) – September 2019
A Gude Cause maks a Strong Erm received the honour of being selected “coup de coeur” by the festival director.

The Scottish Short Film Festival – July 2019
A Gude Cause maks a Strong Erm won in the category of Most Creative/Original short film.

XpoNorth film and music festival – July 2019
A Gude Cause maks a Strong Erm was selected to be shown.

Loch Ness Film Festival – June 2019
A Gude Cause maks a Strong Erm.

Northlight Gallery, Stromness, November 2018
Women’s Suffrage: A work in progress. Non-profit exhibition in association with St. Andrews Fair Saturday. Proceeds went to Orkney Rape and Sexual Assault Service.

The Old Library, Kirkwall, 2017
Contributor to Christmas open exhibition

Pier Arts Centre, Stromness, December 2015 – ongoing
Regular contributor to the Christmas open exhibition