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Across the Festivals: Hearts and Arcs--Two to Watch

Lorna Irvine reports on two Fringe works from Rachel Maclean and Robbie Thomson.

At a cursory glance, Rachel Maclean and and Robbie Thomson may not have much in common, aside from being young, likeable and talented artists based in Glasgow. Yet scratch the surface and there's a lot they share. Both have a highly individual aesthetic. A dark sense of humour permeates their visions. And both have a link with the Phantom Band: Thomson, as part of mischievous art collective 85A, was involved in the design and performance of their 2011 Phantomime, while Maclean created surreal, mash-up style videos for the band. Now, the two are finally getting the national recognition they deserve as part of this year's Edinburgh Festival with their respective works.

I Heart Scotland

'Bizarre', 'grotesque, 'kitsch' and 'colourful' are just some of the adjectives applied to Rachel Maclean's work—yet I prefer saying ‘unique’. She may share a similarity with legendary New York artist Cindy Sherman in that she appears in her own work in a number of disguises, but it's very much all about her own style—lysergic, vibrant and witty in a way that feels unsettling. This exhibition is no different. Clichés of Scotland, the kind you see on shortbread tins, are distorted. Donald Trump, Mary Queen of Scots and even Clyde the Commonwealth Games thistle mascot feature, albeit twisted into weird and disturbing narratives in digital video work and screenprints. See Maclean's amazing work for yourself—you won't regret it.

Ecstatic Arc

If Maclean's work is all about playing with Scottish identity, Robbie Thomson seems to be working within a somewhat European sensibility, with shades of Fritz Lang's classic sci-fi film Metropolis. His remarkable, highly complicated kinetic sculpture buzzes like an angry mechanical hornet's nest, occasionally lighting up and producing rippling electronic impulses. His live music is also very futurist: an electro-soundtrack to accompany the visual art. The installation itself is free, but Thomson is playing limited musical performances. Check Summerhall for more details of times... do catch it ASAP- it's Scottish visual art's future right now.

I Heart Scotland is at Edinburgh Printmakers until September 7th, free. Ecstatic Arc is at Summerhall until August 25th, 8-12.

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