City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Video: First Minister's Christmas 2011 Message

By edg - Posted on 23 December 2011

In his christmas message First Minister Alex Salmond says that our sense of the "common weel" is one of Scotland's greatest assets, and pays tribute to those in the Emergency Services and Armed Forces working through the festive season.

Bella CaledoniaAs is the christmas tradition, the First Minister's specially commissioned christmas card - this year by Alasdair Gray - will be auctioned off for charity.

Bella Caledonia features an image painted by Alasdair Gray as part of the ceiling mural in Oran Mor in Glasgow (venue for the christmas card's launch earlier this month).

The painting will be auctioned in the new year with proceeds given to four Scottish charities: Children's Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS); Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF); Glenachulish Preservation Trust; and the Small Tribes Trust - a charity chosen by Alasdair Gray.

Last year's card - Let's Twist Again by Jack Vettriano - raised £86,000 for the Bethany Christian Trust, Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres, Quarriers and Teenage Cancer Trust.

That took the total raised by the First Minister's Christmas cards to more than £127,000 since 2007, with charities including CLIC Sargent, Joining Against Cancer In Kids Foundation, Mary's Meals and the RNLI all benefiting from the auction sales.

Alasdair Gray said of the painting: "In Lewis Grassic Gibbon's 'Sunset Song', the heroine is referred to at one point as Chris Caledonia. I called my character Bella Caledonia for the same reasons as Gibbon - because she is a representative of all Scotland."

"Bella Caledonia first appeared as an illustration in my novel 'Poor Things'. She was wearing a Gainsborough-style hat, with a view of central Scotland behind her. The post is based on the Mona Lisa, with crossed hands, looking sideways."

"The original is lost long ago, but I have painted different versions of Bella. I changed the hat to a Glengarry and put a tartan plaid over her shoulder. The character is a strong woman with an enquiring mind and a sense of social justice, the qualities we would like Scotland to have also."That sense of social justice and compassion is reflected in the work of the charities who will benefit from the painting. At Christmas, that is very appropriate."