Warning: Not for those of a sensitive disposition. This post contains many images of Donald Trump.
Each year Single Malt Whiskey distillers Glenfiddich host a Spirit of Scotland Awards. It has a number of categories including for music, screen, art and writing.
For the 2012 awards there were some controversy. Not for the music award which went to Gaelic folk-singer Julie Fowlis, or for screen which award went to actor Kelly MacDonald, not for art, awarded to the owner of Edinburgh Arts hub Summerhall, Robert McDowell, or for writing where the author Ewan Morrison took the award.
It was for the prime award itself, the Top Scot, which was won by Michael Forbes. You may not have heard of him but ask Donald Trump about him, mmm on second thoughts do not do that. Beyond the expletives and the bluster you will not be enlightened much.
Michael Forbes viewing Michael Forbes
If you don’t know who Michael Forbes is then the Glenfiddich web page detailing these awards describes him thus:
a farmer from near Balmedie in Aberdeenshire,
who became known after his refusal to sell his home
to billionaire Donald Trump for a luxury golf course development.
So you can at least understand Donald Trump taking a personal, very personal affront at this award.
He had previously described Michael Forbes as ‘living like a pig’ and his land as ‘a slum’.
Michael Forbes on his land, photo courtesy of the BBC
There had been considered Compulsory Purchase Orders (a UK legal statute that allows public authorities to buy land that they believe is in the public interest such as for roads and housing developments without consent of the owners) to remove his and others homes so as not to spoil the view for those visiting this golf course development (titled almost inevitably Trump International Golf Links), a sort of class-cleansing. Apparently Trump thinks golfing holidays for the wealthy are in the public interest!
His response then to the award and Glenfiddich came in the form of a tweet on December 5 ‘We are getting rid of Glenfiddich garbage alcohol from Trump properties’!
Only problem with this is that the Top Scot Award is not chosen by a behind-closed-doors select committee of Glenfiddich staff but by public vote! The Scottish public sided with feisty Farmer Michael Forbes over belligerent bully business-man Donald Trump. As we also saw with the 2012 US Presidential Election in a democracy the people will not always vote the way of wise Donald!
By coincidence at the time of Trump’s Twitter Diatribe against Glenfiddich I was watching You’ve Been Trumped the 2011 British documentary directed by Anthony Baxter and described by IMDB thus
In this David and Goliath story for the 21st century,
a group of proud Scottish homeowners take on
celebrity tycoon Donald Trump as he buys up
one of Scotland’s last wilderness areas to build a golf resort.
It was released August of this year and broadcast by the BBC in November causing Trump to Tweet ‘No surprise that BBC is in a major scandal for shoddy journalism. Any network that air’s Anthony Baxter’s garbage has zero credibility’ – conflating a whole range of issues in typical Donald style!
But this post is not a review of the documentary (but you should see it!) but of an artist, David McCue, whose work was featured in the film and the film’s poster. He is a Scottish painter and was commissioned to host an art event detailing Trump’s golfing resort development and various residents resistance towards it. It was titled pithily Triumphant? The Art of the Deal and took place on the farmland of Top Scot Michael Forbes, in July 2010.
In addition to McCue’s oil paintings the event included a crazy-golf sculpture, selected written correspondence and other related artefacts.
Donald Trump Crazy Putting Golf Sculpture
The oil-paintings were of both Donald Trump and Michael Forbes and even had I no knowledge of the events inspiring them I think the context would be very apparent! I find them very striking.
This first oil painting ‘Local Hero’ makes reference to the 1983 film by Scottish director Bill Forsyth of the same name in which an American oil company seeks to buy up an entire Scottish village so as they can build a refinery without local opposition – very obvious parallels to real life! Burt Lancaster plays the Trump role (Hero or Villain – a rhetorical question!) of oil billionaire Felix Happer.
And I should add many of the locals are in favour of the project as with Aberdeenshire residents today, as it promises jobs and money after all. The resistance comes from a hermit, known only as Ben, living on a beach who also owns that beach, the Michael Forbes figure as it were, played by late Scots Actor Fulton Mackay.
And as with Donald Trump the Felix Happer character believes his great money can persuade everything only to be disillusioned of this notion.
On David McCue’s site though I could find no other work of his beyond this Triumphant Art of the Deal commission. Perhaps it was his first work but I would think it is doubtful that an unknown artist would get such a commission, but possible. I would have to explore further.
Googling did not reveal much about him at all contending as he does with a much more documented American businessman of the same name – perhaps an unintended irony!
There is a very brief article in the Aberdeen Voice which describes him as a ‘Glasgow artist’ and in an interview on his own website he describes Andy Warhol as an adult hero. But much of the rest of that interview is about the Trump project including possible future developments
It is possible that the art works may be recontextualised in the future
His words, not mine! He is meaning that this Donald Trump Golf Development story is not over yet.
But nothing much forthcoming about him or the rest of his works.