FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she is “very happy” with a new life-size portrait after getting a sneak preview of the artwork today.
Artist Gerard M Burns unveiled the painting at Bute House, the First Minister’s official residence in Edinburgh, where she saw it for the first time.
The portrait forms part of a wider exhibition by the artist which will be launched next month in New York for Scotland Week celebrations held in the US city.
A portrait of actress Elaine C Smith dressed in full pantomime costume features in the exhibition and she was given the first glimpse of it alongside Ms Sturgeon in the Bute House drawing room.
Other works include portraits of actors Ewan McGregor, Brian Cox and Alan Cumming, and comedian Billy Connolly.
Ms Sturgeon said: “I think it is a fantastic painting, put aside what people think of me in the painting - that’s for other people to judge.
“Gerard is such an amazing artist and I guess what I was looking at was not just how I look in the painting, although I think it captures me pretty well, but it is all the incredible detail around it from the Raeburn of Niel Gow to some of the intricate details of the surroundings.
“It’s just an amazing piece of art and I think it is very, very impressive.”
She added: “It’s a bit strange to see myself on canvas but Gerard is such a talented artist and it’s a big honour to be part of this exhibition. I’m very happy with it.”
The portrait, which was painted from a photograph taken in the same room, sees Ms Sturgeon in the red dress she wore on the day she was voted in as First Minister in November last year.
Artist Burns said: “I decided I wanted to do something that celebrated the various aspects of who she is.
“The fact that she is the first female First Minister, her youth, her femininity, her confidence. So, I had a whole load of things that I wanted this painting to be.
“The photo session is crucial, I had about an hour with her and at one point she stood watching me and I thought ‘that’s it, that’s the shot, it’s perfect’. It’s got a wee bit of swagger about it, a wee bit of gallus.”
The artist said the exhibition, titled A Brush with Inspiration, is a celebration of inspirational Scots.
He said: “The sitters are a combination of talented Scots with an American profile, Scots that have made it in New York and Scots talent that we just want to celebrate.”
There are 16 portraits in total and proceeds from sales or donations will go to The Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice fundraising for a new site in Bellahouston, Glasgow.
Journalist and broadcaster Kirsty Wark, Helena Kennedy QC and actress Laura Fraser of Breaking Bad fame have been painted along with composer Craig Armstrong, author Denise Mina, designer Iona Crawford.
Martin Gilbert, Aberdeen Asset Management chief executive, Donna Nairi, a Scottish financier living in New York, businesswoman Lynda Logan and Alan Linn, founder of the Norwood Club, complete the line-up.
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