Interview: visual artist Rachel Maclean on new show Happy & Glorious

The video artist, famous for her neon/DayGlo grotesqueries, turns her attention to the duality of characters

Interview: visual artist Rachel Maclean on new show Happy & Glorious

Rachel Maclean turns her attention to social class and status for Happy & Glorious, an exhibition of three films that includes ‘Please Sir’, a new split-screen work made for CCA. ‘It’s slightly moving away from a specific look at patriotism or nationalism,’ Maclean says. ‘The starting point was looking at the narrative of The Prince and the Pauper, and this idea of a duality with these two characters that look the same but live very different lives. I like playing with that format. The prince and the pauper switch places halfway through, and the whole thing gets more complex. It’s on a continuous loop, so there’s a sense of not knowing where it starts or ends.’

The exhibition is part of Generation, which celebrates the past 25 years of art in Scotland. ‘Being part of Generation is great. It’s really exciting in the sense of being a young artist as well; so many of the artists in Generation are people I’ve admired for a long time. And it’s a nice idea to think about what Scottish art means now and what it’s meant over the past 25 years.’

After Happy & Glorious, Maclean will be filming on Mull for a new work to be shown at Comar in Tobermory. ‘It’s an amazing place; there’s so much to choose from in terms of locations. I’m looking at a lot of folklore and Gaelic folktales and these notional spirit creatures that inhabit the human world, which I think might be quite fun to play around with as characters.’

Happy & Glorious, CCA, Glasgow, Sat 31 May–Sun 13 Jul; The Weepers, An Tobar, Mull, Thu 7 Aug–Sat 27 Sep.

Rachel Maclean: Happy&Glorious

New video work from the Glasgow-based artist, exploring themes thrown up by the Commonwealth Games, and featuring her Margaret Tait Award-winning exploration of British identity in the post-imperial age (featuring lots of green screen and a cheap plastic lion mask), A Whole New World.


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