Light Matters: Rachel Maclean

12-01-2019 23:01

Rachel Maclean

Biographical Information:

  • Maclean was Born in 1987, Edinburgh Scotland
  • She studied a BA in Drawing and Painting at Edinburgh Collage of Art in 2009
  • Maclean’s work predominately uses digital media and video and uses greenscreen which enables her to act all the characters.
  • She wears and uses her own costumes and makeup prosthetics.
  • She explores topics such as politics, social media and identity.


  • Won the Margaret Tate Award in 2013
  • Selected to Present Scotland at the Venice Biennale 2017


  • Birmingham Museum & Gallery-  Too Cute ! Sweet is about to get sinister (NEW EXHIBITION) – 26th January 2019
  • The National Gallery- The Lion and The Unicorn- On now- 3rd February
  • Home Manchester – Wot U Smiling About ?- 29th October 2016 – 8th January 2017


Germs (2013)

(‘Germs’ by Rachel Maclean (Rachel Maclean (2013)

Eyes to Me 

(Rachel Maclean- Eyes to Me (Random Acts (2016)

Again & Again & Again

(Again and Again and Again by Rachel Maclean (Random Acts (2016)

Above shows examples of MacLean’s Film pieces. When I first watched them I was initially scared as the costumes and make up are very graphic and over the top. Many of her videos take a more violent tone such as Eyes to Me, which has a more angry and protest like theme.  The use of sound and imagery are clever as in some of her videos she takes voice clips from movies or tv shows allowing her narrate a story. The technique of her work is amazing with the fantasy worlds looking realistic in the sense that you are immersed into them.  The messages she wants to show in each video begin to arise quickly and the viewer can start to understand the context of the characters and its world. Her videos have a unique style due to the colour palettes and her always playing the characters.

Wot u Smiling about ?: 

(Rachel Maclean on Wot U Smiling about (HOMEmcr (2016)

This Video shows Maclean talking about the exhibition which was shown in Home Manchester and Tate Britain. The show consists of a 30 minute film, prints and sculptures.

In a Talk at Talbot Rice Gallery Rachel Maclean talks about the ideas around the film and prints. She begins by saying that the setting is a world that is controlled by advertising and corporate businesses. The characters are linked to technology and live their life’s through selfies and likes. Within the video installation the two side screes show two emoticon faces happy and sad, which are shown a lot amongst her other works. Maclean says that they are ‘cute but some instances rendered like in what inside that counts as these kind of grotesque live action characters.’ In my own collage piece I want to use emojis to cover the face of an individual along with a collage background to give a ‘fake news’ idea. Stemming from Maclean’s use of emojis in my own work I wanted to use them to link to the millennial generation, where by emojis our now a second language due to the rise of smartphones and social media, so can demonstrate my opinion through an exaggerated symbol that represents an emotions. Her protest against advertisement which she feels strongly about correlates with my work being a protest against the old fashioned system that we live in today and through seeing her films it has lead me to look at combining technological images to my activist piece.


  • Coustou, E (2016) Five Minutes on Rachel Maclean. Tate. 5th December. Available at: Accessed [8th January 2018]
  • HOMEmcr (2016) Rachel Maclean On Wot u Smiling About (video) Available at: Accessed [8th January 2018]  
  • HOME (n.d) Rachel Maclean: Wot U Smiling About. Available at: Accessed [8th January 2019]
  • Tate (n.d) Racheal Maclean Wot U Smiling About ?. Available at: Accessed [8th January 2019]
  • Rachel Maclean (2013) ‘Germs’ by Rachel Maclean (video) Available at: Accessed [8th January 2019]
  • Random Acts (2016) Rachel Maclean- Eyes to Me (video) Available at: Accessed [8th January 2019]
  • Random Acts (2016) Again and Again and Again by Rachel Maclean (video) Available at: Accessed [8th January 2019]
  • National Scottish Galleries (n.d) Rachel Maclean. Available at: Accessed ] [8th January 2019]
  • Arts Council Collection (2018) Rachel Maclean to curate new National Partners Exhibition in 2019. Available at: Accessed [8th January 2019]
  • Chapter Noise (2018) Rachel Maclean : Artist Talk At Talbot Rice Gallery (video) Available at: Accessed [8th January 2019]
  • Boyd-Scotrick, F (2017) A World In Ruins: An Interview With Rachel Maclean. The Quietus. 3rd December. Available at: Accessed [8th January 2019]