Rachel Thibbotumunuwe - Highland Romance by Rachel Maclean

Podcast Transcript
Highland Romance

My name is Rachel, and I'm the Learning Manager for Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums.

I've chosen Highland Romance by the Scottish artist Rachel Maclean. Rachel was born in Edinburgh in 1987 and currently lives in Glasgow. This year she represents Scotland at the La Biennale di Venezia, an exhibition that was on until November 2017. She is also one of three artists that were commissioned to create a large-scale mural of Sir Billy Connelly in Glasgow city centre.

Rachel's work is fantastic in every sense of the word. She makes work in print and in video and references popular culture through her works. Her works all feature multiple characters and she performs all these characters herself using a technique called green screen. She collages visual elements together to create a hyper real world of elaborate costume, make up and prosthetics. It's highly coloured, it's fantastic, it's sometimes a bit dark and grotesque but it's always critical and satirical poking fun and sometimes slightly darker critics of contemporary culture.

The work Highland Romance is from the exhibition I Heart Scotland created with Edinburgh Print Makers just before the Scottish Independence Referendum. It explores our nations romantic histories through this time of contemporary political debate. Presenting a complex and quite a surreal vision of modern Scotland. There's lots in there for us all to recognise and debate.

As I mentioned before she references popular culture within that there's references to children's TV, to horror movies, British comedy, to video games, to the culture of YouTube or reality TV. She also sometimes borrows from pop music or pop music videos. Occasionally you will find in her film works she is collaging audio from sources that we would all recognise, TV programmes as well as news items.

Her work is absolutely fascinating, and I've chosen it because I feel that there is lots of room for us all to make our own connections.

Recently at Aberdeen Treasure Hub we were working with a group of young learners. Their ages ranging from 4 to 16. The youngest learner in the room was great at interpreting the visual elements in Highland Romance and it was just fascinating to see that. The reaction from the rest of us was great too, because that young person recognising some of those visual elements stirred up an enormous debate about literacy and us interpreting these elements and talking more expansively about where we are in the world.

So, it's brilliant for opening up debate and discussion in a safe space. I just can't wait to see what Rachel does next.