In 2001 McLachlan studied archaeology at University College London. At the same time she attended art classes at The Slade School of Fine Art. After completing three seasons of archaeological fieldwork in Belize, McLachlan became disenchanted with academic archaeology; she lost interest in the objectification of past human societies, preferring to investigate the ways that narratives have shaped our understandings of the world. It was after taking part in a Mayan ceremony, that McLachlan decided to become an artist. She felt that art was subjective, irrational and mysterious: an empirical system to explore, discover and unveil alternate ways of understanding the world and human experience.