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Art students make waves in Venice

Five Edinburgh students are working with acclaimed artist Rachel Maclean as she represents Scotland at a world-renowned contemporary art festival.

A total of 15 students from five Scottish Art colleges are joining the artist – an Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) alumna – at the Venice Biennale as part of a Professional Development Programme.

Venetian fairytale

They will help present Rachel Maclean’s new work Spite Your Face, a modern-day, dark Venetian fairytale which was produced especially for the Biennale festival.

The 37 minute film has been commissioned and curated by Alchemy Film and Arts in partnership with the Talbot Rice Gallery and the University.

Venice Biennale presents 86 national pavilions. Scotland + Venice display is at Chiesa di Santa Caterina – a deconsecrated church – until 26 November.

Each participating country selects an artist, or group of artists, to create an exhibition that showcases the best of its contemporary art scene.

Ambassadors for Scotland

Scotland + Venice Professional Development Programme
Scotland + Venice Professional Development Programme

The Professional Development Programme - spearheaded by the Talbot Rice Gallery and the University, is part of the wider Scotland + Venice. 

The 15 students taking part are acting as ambassadors for Scotland + Venice – a partnership between Creative Scotland, the National Galleries of Scotland and British Council Scotland.

The students’ duties will include welcoming visitors, assisting with events and screenings and informing visitors about Rachel Maclean and her new work.

The students work in pairs for one month each during the festival. Isota Page, a third year MA Fine Art student and, Laura Gray from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee were at the premier of the show.

Spite Your Face creates fantasy narratives involving studio based green-screen techniques, customised prosthetics, costume, and voice actors.

The artist plays all the parts in the film herself - transforming her identity with elaborate costumes.

The development programme is fantastic. The students I have met who are part of it are really brilliant and have done such an amazing job. I’m so excited for them. I’m looking forward to what they make, and what they do, as a result of the experience. I think there will be an amazing legacy for Scotland and the Scottish art scene.

Rachel Maclean

Talbot Rice Gallery will host Maclean’s work from Venice in early 2018.

Stuart Bennett, ECA Deputy Principal, says working at the Biennale gives students a unique opportunity to learn new skills and to expand their artistic network.

“The Professional Development Programme provides a vital experience of working in a social role, engaging with public, working with established artists and absorbing all that the Biennale and the city has to offer.”

Stuart Bennett ECA Deputy Principal

The other institutions participating in the programme are: Borders College; City of Glasgow College; Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design; Glasgow School of Art; and Gray’s School of Art, Robert Gordon University.

“The programme offers arts students from across Scotland a valuable experience to work with the curatorial team, to build new professional relationships and to develop a much deeper understanding of the context in which they practice as artists, whilst getting to experience the very best international contemporary art.”

Amanda CattoHead of Visual Art at Creative Scotland and Chair of the Scotland + Venice partnership

The University has acquired Rachel Maclean's new film commission, Spite Your Face, which will provide an ongoing legacy for Scotland + Venice 2017 and celebrate the University's key role in the project.

Related links

Scotland + Venice

Talbot Rice Gallery 

Edinburgh College of Art

Rachel Maclean