I’ve been painting all day. And I’ve been troubled. Not by paint splashes or falling off a ladder nor the errant hound puppy swiping the whole sourdough loaf. No the painting went fine and thinking back I was troubled even before I even started painting.
You see, Neil Hay, the Edinburgh South SNP candidate (one thing I learned today) dropped two cards through our letterbox. And featuring strongly is a portrait of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. It’s that that troubles me because I get the distinct impression she’s in a funeral home. I know she isn’t but I just can’t get it out of my mind even after hours spent painting walls and woodwork (strong white by F&B if you must).
Let me try to explain. She appears four times on the two cards. Once she stands with the candidate. Three further times it’s the same portrait but on varying backgrounds. And it’s those backgrounds that leave me unsettled as they include props that could be associated with death or the funeral process.
She has a vase of white roses, a mottled brown backdrop and a saltire. Three shots all different because as she is dropped into the scene the props are differently arranged according to the layout needs of the cards. Always there is a sense of solemnity. A relaxed seriousness too as befitting a politician. None of the props on their own are terribly problematic. But all together the solemnity just trumps the scene. The saltire is free standing akin to a church or military setting, the white roses signifying innocence. We are at a funeral.
Maybe I’m reading too much into it. And she is smiling throughout. But the setting isn’t everyday. It isn’t real and that can only open doors to alternate reading. Why wasn’t she photographed in an urban setting or in a landscape? Her image itself is a cut out. Has it come from HQ and distributed to the constituencies for use as each sees fit? And yes I know the background will always be been as the Tories have blue, Labour red, the Lib Dems yellow and the Greens… well.
But can I suggest you tighten the imagery. No one votes for a funeral.