British Council Scotland is celebrating their 70th anniversary by spotlighting works from the British Council Collection that map the vitality and record the activity of just some of the artists who were born in, or studied, lived or visited Scotland in the last 70 years.

Read an introduction to the project and the 70 chosen works by Susanna Beaumont, an independent curator based in Scotland

For the last in a series of blog posts about seven of these works, Susanna has written about Rachel Maclean’s film work:

Rachel Maclean, The Lion and the Unicorn, 2012
High-definition video

Rachel Maclean is a Glasgow-based artist who studied drawing and painting at Edinburgh College of Art. Selected to represent Scotland at the Venice Biennale in 2017, Maclean is a filmmaker whose work explores seemingly fictitious narratives to beguiling effect.

Maclean’s films feature fantastical line-ups of characters. Often played by Maclean herself, they inhabit a colour-saturated, saccharine-seductive and claustrophobic interior world. Maclean’s constructed storylines harness humour, spectacle and digital technology to explore codes of behaviour and politics in the modern age.

In her video The Lion and the Unicorn from 2012, Maclean interrogates ideas of nationhood and identity. Set in a series of stately interiors (the film was shot at Traquair House in the Scottish Borders), the viewer spectates on outlandish figures pontificating (Maclean lip-synchs found audio material) on politics. Irreverent and absurdist, symbolism is also rife. A cake iced with the Union Jack is cut into pieces, while talk is had of Scottish independence and North Sea oil revenues.

Read the previous blog posts in the series