Media Release: Rachel Maclean selected to represent Scotland at Venice Biennale 2017


THE Scotland + Venice partnership is delighted to announce that Rachel Maclean has been selected to represent Scotland at the 57th International Art Exhibition, the Venice Biennale, running from 13 May to 26 November 2017.

This will be a solo presentation of new work centred on a major new film commission.

The presentation is commissioned and curated by Alchemy Film and Arts, based in Hawick, in partnership with Talbot Rice Gallery and the University of Edinburgh.

A graduate of Edinburgh College of Art, Rachel Maclean works across film, print and photography to construct fantasy narratives that play with issues of identity, social values and politics. A mix of high art and popular culture, advanced technology and traditional theatre, humour and serious enquiry, her work is exacting and engaging.

Possessing a bold and unique vision, Maclean has created an extraordinary cast of characters in her films.

Often playing each of these parts herself, she demonstrates an exceptional commitment to both process and form. Her work has attracted national attention through her presence in The British Art Show and this new commission for Venice will offer Rachel a significant international platform.

Founded in 2010, Alchemy Film & Arts has produced six editions of the Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival, an international festival of experimental film and artists’ moving image.

This commission is an important opportunity for Alchemy to build on its achievements to date, and to celebrate the dynamic creativity emerging within artists’ film and moving image practice in Scotland today.

The Venice Biennale is recognised as the largest and most prestigious visual arts exhibition in the world. This will be the eighth presentation from Scotland + Venice, continuing to build Scotland’s strength and reputation as an important international voice in visual art.

Scotland + Venice is a partnership between Creative Scotland, National Galleries of Scotland and the British Council Scotland.

As the project’s creative and academic partner, Talbot Rice Gallery will host Rachel Maclean’s work from the Venice Biennale in early 2018.

On being selected for Scotland + Venice 2017 Rachel Maclean, commented: “It is hugely exciting to be representing Scotland at the Venice Biennale. I am honoured to be participating in such a significant international event and can’t wait to get started on the new commission.”

Amanda Catto, chair of the Scotland + Venice Partnership and head of Visual Arts at Creative Scotland, said: “The Scotland + Venice partners are delighted to be presenting the work of Rachel Maclean at the Venice Biennale in 2017.

“Rachel’s work is remarkable and has the power to captivate and enthral. The Biennale is a significant international platform that will bring Rachel’s work to new audiences, especially the large number of international visitors that come to Venice.

“Our partnership with Alchemy Film and Arts and Talbot Rice Gallery/ University of Edinburgh is extremely valuable, providing exciting new possibilities to strengthen the impact of the project in Scotland, to produce an outstanding exhibition and to ensure our visitors are given the very warmest of welcomes.”

Richard Ashrowan, creative director at Alchemy Film & Arts, said: “Rachel Maclean is a powerfully original artist filmmaker, and we look forward to working with her on a striking new film and exhibition presentation at Venice. Alchemy Film & Arts has built a strong national and international profile through six editions of the Alchemy Film & Moving Image Festival, touring programmes, film commissioning and residencies.

“Scotland + Venice will help us build on this, while providing a platform to celebrate the dynamic creativity emerging within artists’ film and moving image practice in Scotland today.

“Rachel’s new film commission will create a significant legacy as part of a national and international touring programme, working with a range of partners across Scotland and beyond. We are especially delighted to be working closely with Talbot Rice Gallery and Edinburgh University in the realisation of Rachel’s show.”

Pat Fisher, principal curator of the University of Edinburgh’s Talbot Rice Gallery, said: “We are delighted to be one of the partner organisations presenting Rachel Maclean’s work at the Venice Biennale. The university is extremely proud that the audacious work of an Edinburgh College of Art graduate will represent her country on a world stage.

“Since graduating in 2009, her striking and relevant work has been a great inspiration to succeeding generations of students and staff.

“The potential for Rachel in Venice is vast. It is a place of decadence and Carnival, of mythical history and masquerade balls. We eagerly anticipate how she will respond to it.”


Notes to editors:

1. Scotland + Venice is a partnership between Creative Scotland, the National Galleries of Scotland and British Council Scotland and representatives of these organisations sit on the Steering Group that oversees the successful delivery of the project.

For the artist/s selected Venice provides a significant opportunity for the development and presentation of new work. For the partners, Venice is an important project that helps to build Scotland’s profile and reputation as an international centre for the visual arts.

Rachel Maclean’s presentation curated by Alchemy Film and Arts in partnership with Talbot Rice Gallery and the University of Edinburgh was selected following an open call for proposals in March 2016.

Interested curators and arts organisations were invited to make a submission for Scotland and Venice 2017 by 14th April 2016 and 15 expressions of interest were received. A strong shortlist of six accomplished proposals was established and the selection panel made its decision based on the brief and requirements for the project.

The selection panel included Amanda Catto, portfolio manager for Visual Arts at Creative Scotland and chair of the Scotland + Venice partnership; Simon Groom, director of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art; Juliet Dean, visual arts adviser at British Council; Godfrey Worsdale, director of the Henry Moore Foundation and Katrina Schwarz, curator at British Council.

Previous Scotland + Venice presentations have included Graham Fagen (curated by Hospital Field Arts in 2015); Duncan Campbell, Hayley Tompkins and Corin Sworn (curated by The Common Guild in 2013);Karla Black (curated by the Fruitmarket Gallery in 2011); and Martin Boyce (curated by Dundee Contemporary Arts in 2009).

In 1990, at the invitation of the Biennale director Giovanni Carandente, three sculptors, David Mach, Arthur Watson and Kate Whiteford,made work for the Biennale in a project entitled Tre Scultori Scozzesi.

For information on past projects, please visit Follow @scotlandvenice and

2. Rachel Maclean (1987) was educated at Edinburgh College of Art where she completed her BA in Drawing and Painting in 2009. Based in Glasgow, Maclean was nominated for the Film London Jarman Award in 2013 and won Glasgow Film Festivals Margaret Tait Award in 2013.

Recent exhibitions include ‘British Art Show 8’ (2015), ‘Ok, You’ve Had Your Fun’, Casino Luxembourg (2015), ‘Please, Sir…’, Rowing, London, (2014); ‘The Weepers’, Comar, Mull, (2014); ‘Happy & Glorious’, CCA, Glasgow, (2014). Recent screenings include: Feed Me at Athens and Luxembourg Film Festival (2016); Moving Pictures, British Council and Film London, (2015-16); Lolcats, Impakt Festival, Utrecht, The Netherlands, (2014).

Maclean was nominated for the Film London Jarman Award in 2013 and won Glasgow Film Festivals Margaret Tait Award in 2013. She has an upcoming residency at Artpace, San Antonio and a solo show at HOME, Manchester in late 2016.

3. Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival held its sixth edition in April 2016, screening 124 films from 26 countries, with 44 UK and World premiere screenings and over fifty filmmakers in attendance. The festival is produced in partnership with Heart of Hawick in the Scottish Borders. Alchemy Film & Arts also engages in developmental projects for experimental film and artists’ moving image production in Scotland, including artists’ filmmaking residencies, filmmaking symposia, international and rural touring programmes, and community filmmaking initiatives. For further information, please visit: Follow @alchemyfilmfest and

For an interview with creative director, Richard Ashrowan, please visit:

4. Talbot Rice is the University of Edinburgh’s public art gallery. Founded in the early 1970s, Talbot Rice has an influential national and international reputation founded on its exhibition and integrated education programmes. In the last decade, the gallery has curated exhibitions with some of the most influential artists in the world, including Luc Tuymans, Jane and Louise Wilson, Joseph Kosuth, Jenny Holzer, Lucy Mc Kenzie, Alasdair Gray, Mark Dion, Rosemarie Trockel, and Tim Rollins. For further information, please visit Follow Talbot Rice on Twitter at @talbotrice75 and Facebook:

5. Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here. We enable people and organisations to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life. We distribute funding provided by the Scottish Government and the National Lottery. For further information about Creative Scotland, please visit Follow us @creativescots and

6. The National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) looks after one of the world’s finest collections of Western art ranging from the Middle Ages to the present day. These holdings include the National Collection of Scottish art which is displayed in an international context. Last year the NGS welcomed over two million visitors from Scotland and the rest of the world to our three Galleries sited in Edinburgh. These include the Scottish National Gallery, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. For further information, please visit:

7. British Council Scotland’s mission is to build long-term international relationships and trust between the people of Scotland and other countries through the exchange of ideas, knowledge and information in the arts and education. Our involvement in the arts arena stretches back to 1947 when we helped to found the Edinburgh International Festival and every year we continue to work on new and exciting cultural projects connecting Scotland and the world. For further information, please visit:

Media contact

Sophie Bambrough

Media relations and PR officer


T: 0131 523 0015

M: 07747 606 146

MEDIA RELEASE issued by Creative Scotland. You too can share your stories (aka press or media releases), on Email here for more information.

Check out for your very own media releases feed…

Check out too, and

To catch up on all the media releases recently posted on to, you need only click the link icon that you see towards the bottom right of our two media release ‘gateway boxes’. 

Link iconIt’s this icon, here. It’s your route straight into the rich archive.

Creative Scotland contact details…

Contact: Sophie Bambrough
Phone: 0131 523 0015