Scarlett Carlos Clarke

The New Flesh, 2019 ,C-type50 x 70 cm

Review by Molly Cranston

The smell of calpol on a warm evening, clinging to the thick air of the living room, children running around in a blue TV-glow. Scarlett Carlos Clarke’s debut solo exhibition at Cob Gallery interrogates the darkness of domestic life and motherhood. Uncanny and uncomfortable, the gallery space is domesticated and hushed with brown carpet and a bust of the artist’s own torso steadily lactating in its own cycle. 

Clarke has been working on this series of images over a number of years starting in 2017, presenting women – lovers, mothers, and mothers-to-be – in comfortable but oppressive home settings. There’s a poignancy of exhibiting them now in the midst of the mass-isolation demanded by the global pandemic, when the suffocating nature of domestic space and motherhood is more gutting and monotonous than before. The images themselves are lush and painterly, Clarke handles dramatic chiaroscuro like a renaissance painter, imbuing her photos with a sense of history and cinema, but the buzz-blue tones and household props (Daz detergent, Irn-Bru, Pampers) plant her subjects resolutely in contemporary Britain. 

Through her work Carlos deftly articulates that crazed duplicitous sensation that solitude brings, contradictory and electric, feeling everything at once: ‘craving mess and chaos, craving control; feeling shackled, feeling free; feeling safe and vulnerable; feeling weak and empowered; feeling bored and madly excited; feeling alone.’ The Smell of Calpol on a Warm Summer’s Night was on view this July at Cob Gallery.

installation view

The Smell of Calpol On A Warm Summers Night, 2020
Silicon, Silicon Paint, Fibreglass, Enamel Bowl
Painted Marble Plinth (#1/2)

That day on the beach, 2021, C-type91 x 140 cm

Augusta, 2019, C-type91 x 140 cm

Untitled, 2018, C-type91 x 140 cm

Paradise, 2020, C-type50 x 70 cm

Images courtesy the artist and Cob Gallery