I Heart Scotland is a solo show by Rachel Maclean, exploring Scottish national identity and its founding mythologies. Presenting a body of film and print work, the exhibition examines the nations romantic histories through the lens of contemporary political debate, creating a complex and surreal vision of modern Scotland. Responding to the upcoming Referendum on Scottish Independence in 2014, the show explores a sense of both power and absurdity within representations of Scottish and British national pride.
Installed with a Baroque distain for emptiness, the work transforms the space into an intimate National Gallery, come shop bought Victorian castle. Maclean is the only actor or model in the work, inventing characters that toy with age and gender and refer to an array of historical figures, contemporary politicians and national stereotypes.
The series digital prints newly commissioned and published by Edinburgh Printmakers
present semi-historical, semi-fantastical tableaus. At once alluring and monstrous, these images explore a hybrid of styles, referencing the rugged romance of Scottish Landscape painting, the all-smiling, futurist visions of SNP propaganda and the hyper-saturated pop colours of Oor Wullie.
Alongside these prints, Maclean is exhibiting a short film titled The Lion and The Unicorn. Inspired by the heraldic symbols found on the Royal Coat of Arms of The United Kingdom (the lion representing England and the unicorn representing Scotland) the video uses these icons of both alliance and opposition to explore a range of contradictory standpoints on nationalism. The video features three recurrent characters: the lion, the unicorn and the queen. Through a use of costume and appropriated audio, these figures emerge from disparate genres, including shadowy historical reconstruction, playful nursery rhyme and pragmatic TV interview. Inhabiting the rich historical setting of T raquair House in the Scottish Borders, they are seen drinking North-sea oil from Jacobite crystal, dividing up the pieces of a Union Jack cake and inciting conflict over the mispronunciation of Robert Burns.
At once grotesquely positive and violently kitsch, I HEART SCOTLAND employs dark humour to present a playful and multi-layered reading of contemporary Scottish identity.