Rachel Maclean: Spite Your Face

20 Oct 2018 – 20 Jan 2019

Regular hours

11:00 – 17:00
11:00 – 17:00
11:00 – 17:00
11:00 – 17:00
11:00 – 17:00
11:00 – 17:00

Cost of entry


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Wales, United Kingdom


Travel Information

  • Canton Library
  • Ninian Park
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Commissioned for the Venice Biennale in 2017, Rachel Maclean’s critically-acclaimed ‘Spite Your Face’ travels to Chapter, Cardiff to present her first solo exhibition in Wales.


Referencing the Italian folk-tale The Adventures of Pinocchio, ‘Spite Your Face’ (2017) advances a powerful social critique, exploring underlying fears and desires that characterise the contemporary zeitgeist. Set across two worlds – with a glittering, materialistic and celebrity-obsessed upper world, and a dark, dank and impoverished lower world – the lure of wealth and adoration entices a destitute young boy into the shimmering riches of the kingdom above. Written in the wake of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, and during Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, the story is steeped in the political flux and uncertainty of our time. Shown as a perpetual 37-minute loop with no definitive beginning or end, ‘Spite Your Face’ raises issues including the abuse of patriarchal power, capitalist deception, exploitation and the destructive trappings of wealth and fame, all in Maclean’s typically direct and acerbic style.

Following the monumental staging of the work for Scotland + Venice in the deconsecrated Chiesa di Santa Caterina in Venice, ‘Spite Your Face’ was reframed for the Georgian Gallery of Talbot Rice in Edinburgh before travelling to Cardiff where Chapter will also present a new commission to accompany the exhibition. Maclean has created a large-scale artwork that will be sited on the art centre’s façade, announcing the arrival of central character, Pic to visitors and passers-by alike.

A text by writer and curator Ellen Mara de Wachter has been commissioned to accompany the exhibition.


‘Spite Your Face’ (2017) was commissioned and curated for Scotland + Venice by Alchemy Film and Arts, in partnership with Talbot Rice Gallery and the University of Edinburgh.  Additional support provided by Edinburgh College of Art, Outset and the Saltire Society of Scotland.

The exhibition at Chapter is made possible with support from the Art Fund and Hope Scott Trust.


Rachel Maclean is a Glasgow-based artist (b 1987, Edinburgh, Scotland). Working predominantly with the moving image, Maclean has had significant recent success, with major exhibitions at HOME, Manchester and Tate Britain in 2016.

After graduating from Edinburgh College of Art, her work came to public attention in New Contemporaries 2009. She went on to win the Margaret Tait Award in 2013, was twice shortlisted for the Jarman Award, and achieved widespread critical acclaim for Feed Me (2015) in the British Art Show 8.

Recent exhibitions include: Spite Your Face (2017-18), Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh; Wot u :-) about? (2016), HOME, Manchester and Tate Britain, London; We Want Data (2016), Artpace San Antonio, Texas; Feed Me (2015), British Art Show 8; Ok, You’ve Had Your Fun, Casino Luxembourg (2015); Please, Sir…, Rowing, London (2014); The Weepers, Comar, Mull (2014); Happy & Glorious, CCA, Glasgow (2014), part of Generation, 25 Years of Contemporary Art in Scotland. Recent screenings include: Alchemy Film & Moving Image Festival (2017); Kochi-Muziris Biennale, India (2016); TECHSTYLE Series 1.0: Ariadne’s Thread at MILL 6, Hong Kong (2016); Athens and Luxembourg Film Festival (2016); Moving Pictures, British Council and Film London (2015-16); Impakt Festival, Utrecht, The Netherlands (2014).

In 2018 Rachel was commissioned by 14-18 NOW and BBC to create Make Me Up as part of Represent, a series of artworks inspired by the Representation of the People Act 1918. Represent invites young female artists to explore democracy, equality and inclusion in contemporary Britain and is accompanied by a programme of events, talks and professional development opportunities. For more information: https://www.1418now.org.uk/commissions/make-me-up/


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Rachel Maclean


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