Yes, I hate that song too, and yes we are indeed talking about the upcoming Independence Referendum, to be held on September 18th. So, does Scotland remain part of the United Kingdom, or should she break away to find her own space and do her own thing?  It’s hard to guage what kind of a place Scotland would become, supposing the result is a YES: a flourishing left-of-center utopia, steeped in the riches of North Sea Oil revenue; or a sad, isolated little country with no EU Membership and a mountain of shortbread she can’t flog?

 

It’s a big deal, and it’s what everyone in Scotland is talking about… all of the time, every waking minute; many Scottish people even talk about it in their sleep. Naturally, Scamp wanted to jump on the bandwagon, but we’ve also been desperate to have a wee gab with Rachel Maclean, one of our favourite young video artists. It just so happens that - as well as making fantastic, mad-cap films about LOL Cats, Britney Spears and Pro-Biotic Yoghurt - one of the Glasgow based artist’s favourite subjects is Scotland. Her version of Caledonia takes place – like most of her work - in an entirely fabricated digital terrain that she herself meticulously constructs from scratch. She also plays all of the acting parts: leading lady, leading man, supporting cast, extras, animals.

 

A Tale as Old as Time, her mythic video from 2008, took viewers deep into the underwater lair of the Loch Ness Monster, who she of course portrayed in all his ugly glory – green skin, bald head, nasty sharp teeth - as well as about a dozen of its equallyhideous brood: we see them all hatching from eggs, singing along gaily to Celine Dion’s soundtrack from Beauty and the Beast.

More recently she ‘borrowed’ the voices of David Cameron, Alex Salmond and Jeremy Paxman for 2012’s The Lion and the Unicorn, a hilarious 12-minute referendum satire, filmed on location in the Scottish Borders.

 

After scooping the prestigious Margaret Tait Award last year, Maclean was able to fund A Whole New World, the 26-year-old’s most ambitious project to date. The animation is her most advanced, the story’s underlying themes her weightiest: independence, colonialism, imperialism… filtered through a loose ‘Tarzan and Jane’ storyline, with musical set pieces pinched from the soundtracks of Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Pocahontas – although the dubbed, international versions (Maclean has become very good at miming in several foreign languages).

 

“There’s been, from what I can see, a big  push in British Nationalism over the last two or three years - especially with the Royal Wedding, Jubilee and then the Royal Baby;” she tells us, over coffee one recent Sunday afternoon, “and I’m keen to make work that taps into that legacy of the British Empire.” It seemed very apt that we were sitting in Glasgow’s Val D’oro Café (Est. 1887), the oldest chippie in what was once dubbed The Second City of the Empire. Maclean had brought along a bunch of smiley-face flowers, an old prop from Germs, her three-minute spoof of daytime TV commercials. She elegantly placed them in a vase on the table, next to the vinegar bottle. The surrounding walls were covered in nostalgic photos of Aulden Days Scotland, whilst the deep fat fryer bubbled away furiously in the corner, awaiting the staff to chuck in a few Mars Bars.