Post-Ironic Salmond Love

"Everything is art, everything is politics." Ai Weiwei quote with a Jeff Koons miniature balloon dog in the window of Northlight Gallery, Stromness.
Display in the window of Northlight Gallery, March 2021.

Post-ironic Salmond Love

From Saturday 13th to Friday 26th March, Northlight Gallery in Stromness will be showing (in the windows only) work for The Great Big Art Exhibition 2021, on the themes of Animals, Portraits, Colour and Humour. This exhibition, organised by https://firstsite.uk/, aims to be the largest art exhibition ever held. It is open to everyone. People are invited to display work in their windows, or whatever space is available to them, and to share it on social media using the hashtag #TheGreatBigArtExhibition2021.

In keeping with at least three of the themes, Northlight Gallery will be showing my portrait of former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond.

Post-ironic Salmond Love by Martin Laird. Colour negative photograph of art in Northlight Gallery with window reflections in Stromness.
“Post-ironic Salmond Love” in the windows of Northlight Gallery. Colour negative with reflections.

My thanks to the gallery curator Cary Welling for showing this work and setting it in the appropriate context alongside a miniature Jeff Koons balloon dog, a hissing cat and a quote by Ai Weiwei.

“Everything is art. Everything is politics.”

Ai Weiwei

The artwork derives from a photograph I made of Alex Salmond with a group of young voters in Orkney, not long before the 2014 Scottish independence referendum and immediately after he had said the words “I love you” as a (very effective) ice-breaker. This action made for a group photo with a lot of genuine smiles and inspired me to turn it into a portrait which at the time was intended as an ironic joke.

Alex Salmond was (and is) a very divisive character who has been demonised in the British Media for many years. Even supporters of Scottish independence will often voice a dislike of the man bordering on irrational hatred.

"Post-ironic Salmond Love." Detail of modified Yes Scotland badge with an added "?"
“Post-ironic Salmond Love.” Confused Yes? badge detail.

As the years have passed, the picture has acquired additional layers of irony and confusion.

No longer in office, Alex Salmond was subjected to a retrospective disciplinary action by the Scottish Government which was later ruled unlawful and “tainted by apparent bias.” He was then tried in court on 14 charges of sexual misconduct and acquitted by a majority female jury. One charge was thrown out, one returned as “not proven”, and twelve as “not guilty,” making him an innocent man in the eyes of the law.

Only those present in the courtroom know the full details of this case due to onerous reporting restrictions intended to prevent possible ‘jigsaw identification’ of the complainers. In a further irony these legal restrictions, which are usually a convention but not mandatory in Scotland, were apparently put in place to protect the women at the behest of Salmond himself.

"Post-ironic Salmond Love." Hot pink portrait of Alex Salmond, derived from a photograph taken moments after he had uttered the words "I love you."
“Post-ironic Salmond Love.” 2014-21. Digital artwork derived from an original photograph by Martin Laird.

Prints are available for sale to those whose sense of humour runs deep with irony.

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