Artist Anne Power used photographs and film clips to help capture the essence of the subjects for her latest series of work. But last week she was delighted when one turned up in person to see how he had been portrayed on canvas.
Former First Minister Alex Salmond attended a reception in the Scottish Parliament to see for himself her pictorial history of the five politicians who had led the country since 1999.
Her portraits had been on display in the Holyrood building for MSPs, parliament staff and visitors to view.
Arranged by Angus MacDonald, the Falkirk East MSP held a reception to mark the event last Thursday evening.
Mr Salmond was an unexpected guest but told those present, including pupils from Bo’ness Academy and Grangemouth and Braes High Schools, he couldn’t miss the opportunity to see the “magnificent” series of paintings.
He said: “It’s also particularly apt at this time of year, to remember those words of Robert Burns ‘O wad some Power the giftie gie us, To see oursels as ithers see us!’.
“The four surviving First Ministers have all seen themselves captured through the imagination of Anne Power.”
Reflecting on the five pieces of artwork, he said: “I like my look and I’m delighted you have given me a little more hair. Mrs Salmond has given her approval and there is no praise higher.
“Ann has captured the essence of Donald Dewar, our first First Minister. He was a canny operator who had a great love and knowledge of Scotland.
“Henry McLeish I hold in the highest regard and he has proved to have done this country great service, while Lord McConnell, well I always thought there was a bit of the Mafia don about Jack.
“Nicola Sturgeon is not a lady you want to cross and her portrait shows her as a very, very strong woman.”
He then congratulated the artist on both the concept and the execution of her project, which he reflected was a part of history.
Born in Falkirk, Anne grew up in Grangemouth and now lives in Bo’ness with many representatives from all three communities at the reception.
Mr MacDonald told how the artist had the idea for the first portrait of Alex Salmond in the months before the Scottish Referendum in 2014 with her work growing into a series which was completed in December, 18 months after the project started.
He said: “She has delivered paintings which are a living memorial to each of those people she has portrayed and which are a visual record of history. She has visualised all Scotland’s leaders and captured them for posterity.”
A future home for the five canvases has still to be decided but it is hoped that a place can be found for them where they can all hang together.
Anne had also invited along senior art pupils and their teachers from the three schools and invited them to display their portfolios of self portraits for visitors to the parliament exhibition to view. She added the “outstanding” standard of work showed Scotland had a bright artistic future.
Members of Bo’ness Academy’s brass section along with violinist Daniel Stroud provided entertainment during the reception.