Unicorn Artist Guest Blog: Francis Macleod

Thursday 7th March 2024

As part of our upcoming Unicorn exhibition at Perth Museum, we have commissioned 6 artists who identify as queer or part of the LGBTQIA+ community to produce new Unicorn-themed artworks exploring the theme of ‘Unicorn hunting in 2023’. We asked each of our 6 artists to write a blog from their perspective about the process and idea behind their unicorn piece, and what the unicorn means to them in 21st-century Scotland.

Unicorn, the debut exhibition from Perth Museum, explores the rich significance of this beloved mythical creature from antiquity to the present day, through art, science, social movements, and popular culture.  The unicorn’s enduring presence throughout history and its role as a symbol of Scotland’s changing heritage and identity will be explored through iconic loans from around the world,  and interactive displays. The commissioned artworks in this exhibition explore the unicorn as a modern symbol of the LGBTQIA+ community.

This blog is written by our sixth and final commissioned artist Francis Macleod.

Francis Macleod

Like Unicorns, some people treat bisexuality as a myth.

I was immediately enthusiastic to make an artwork which responds to the crossover of two hot topics being pushed by our current Government and their supporters in the media. The targeting of both refugees escaping tyranny, environmental destruction and war, and of LGBTQIA+ identities, who are being made to justify their existence, whilst defending themselves from allegations of malevolent intentions.

I drew inspiration from two particular books, Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution, by Shiri Eisner and Bi: Hidden Culture, History and Science of Bisexuality, by Julia Shaw.


Eisner writes on the concept of ‘monosexuality’ the idea that ‘gay’ and lesbian’ identities have been normalised politically, in an attempt to divide the LGBTQIA+ community. Thus other queer identities are viewed as less legitimate. Due to this bisexual people often find themselves viewed with suspicion, and their identity is often erased.

A chapter of Shaw’s book analyses the difficulties faced by bisexual people when proving their sexuality to immigration officials, whilst being met with doubt and disbelief. Her research found that many stereotypes and misconceptions prevailed in the minds of those processing asylum applications, and that outcomes were often dependent on the ignorant views held by those officials.

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The aesthetic inspiration for this work comes from the Unicorn as a national symbol of Scotland, the legendary ideas of the powers imbued in the horn of a unicorn,  and its links to the pseudo science of alchemy. I could see much of the symbolism present in the historic context of the unicorn which has modern day connotations, and very strongly lent itself to the topics I have chosen to address in my work.

I hope my artwork will inspire viewers to scratch under the surface to understand the issues it addresses.


You can see Francis’ artwork when Unicorn opens on 30 March 2024 at the new Museum. Book your tickets now.