Will Maclean was born in Inverness into a family of fishermen. After spending two years in the Merchant Navy from the age of fifteen, he studied at Gray's School of Art, Aberdeen, from 1961 to 1967. In 1973 Maclean was commissioned by the Scottish International Education Trust to make a detailed study of the declining Scottish ring net fishing industry. This resulted in a collection of some 400 works. Since 1974 Maclean has made assemblages using found objects from the shore, as well as specially constructed items. Inspired by historical, literary and mythological aspects of Scottish seafaring history, Maclean's box constructions are visual tales of the sea.