Artist of the Week

Samara Scott

August 10, 2011

Samara Scott is currently pursuing her MA in Communication Art and Design at the Royal College of Art.  She has an upcoming solo exhibition at Crate Gallery in London.


Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I think about it as a sort of liquidy making, where naive absent-minded processes direct material – leftovers, scum, scraps that I surround myself with – and trickle it through all sorts of ranges. This might be anything from an interiors range, a fashion range or a range of encyclopedic volumes. As the mediums are filtered and exchanged photographs slip towards film, props migrate into sculptures. My latest work, my summer collection! is a range of furnishings – ‘dramatic centerpieces for every occasion’.  Processes are similar to simple domestic luxury activity modes, say ‘shopping’ or traveling or daydreaming – tourist stuff.  I use these visitations of fantasy style processes and accelerate them into sloppy forms of making. I’m serious about sexy textures, juicy garnishes, stained carpets, glittery waterfalls and silhouettes kissing against sunsets.

If you had to explain your work to a stranger, what would you say? At the moment something glossy with a conference centre feel. I think the idea of slinky jargon is steamy, pretty funny but evasive too!  So something like tiered seductive experience merges with high impact visual language: ripe for slipping into new scenarios.

What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? I’ve been told I follow a patchy logic; it’s so twisty, alchemous, vaporous and shortcutting. I have described it before as a ‘field trip’ or a ‘tropical safari;’ and I feel there are parts of the making that venture into the characters of the explorer or the scientist – considering the expansive geology of the universe/web alongside another local corrosion and mixture – the voyage of substance – pairing and mingling from sloppy yet precise whimsical motives.

What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? At this point I’m deep in a hybrid of Memphis, John Soane’s Museum, Marc Camille Chaimowicz, therapeutic/amateur interior design, Virgin Atlantic, Baroque churches, John Divola, Helen Marten, this book on Eskimo costume, early scientific geology writing and 17th century flambé glazed ceramics. I also still haven’t got over the idea of Nature as an emotional branding tool; in all its manmade melodramatic glamour. I just wrote a piece called The Promise of Paradise about Modern religious flyers – which seem to ceaselessly use landscape as universal screen-savers, I’m wowed by these clichéd dramatic backdrops – they are myths. Also – I had this really vivid memory of when I was a teenager cleaning this clarinet and I had this fluffy wand that you had to poke inside it and it all smelt of your own spit but was kind of clammy and cold. I have been really thinking about that – I really want to find a way for people to experience those really lucid sensory things, where the pleasure is really confusing. That’s why I like jelly and sauce with bits in, and wrinkly paper – they are like processed bodies. I like materials that yield, denting, perforations, air bubbles, scratching, gooey shapes, foam and juice, vats, ooze, foliage.

What is one the bigger challenges you and other artists are struggling with these days, and how do you see it developing? I think it’s all to do with the simultaneous beauty and trauma of the Internet. A vast, vast choice of choices in one way makes your practice able to become so exciting and rapid, and I’m interested in that rate of consumption and those shortcuts that it offers, all this transportation, over and over and I need to keep reminding myself of the virtuality of it all. With that thrill I also get sensations of this desert of possibility, the tangle of wanting everything, the restless desire to taste everything.  Its nauseous, giddy and also vacant, and I think it makes choosing hard, and focusing tricky. It’s the tragedy of options I guess.

Best, worst, or favorite reaction someone has had toward your work? ‘Its like glory and vomit at the same time.’ That was perfect. My friend Ed also said that the work kind of has sounds in it, like little moans or squashy noises.

What do you do when you re not working on art? Swimming, eating, talking-I talk a lot. I love swimming, I’m a really big long distance wild swimmer, I’ve swum across the east river ny and we swim a lot in the sea in winter. I’ve just started a synchronised swimming class too.

If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go and why? At this moment my great desire is to go on a cruise ship package, one of those really classy ones that are themselves suspended over-patterned islands, thick with dated flamboyance. I would choose a Mediterranean cruise or a Caribbean tour – an island visiting other islands. I want the whole whammy, headsets, golf courses, buffets, seafood platters, and fountains, mock-baroque paintings that custom-match the wallpaper. I want to go alone on one of those things and make this film that I have had in my mind for a long time. I’m interested in that yellowing corporate gloss, the postclassical odors.

Favorite music? Well my playlist on is just about to be launched, it’s playlists of what artists listen to in their studios. I’ve made a double sided mix tape of my favorite crush classics, Italian opera, r&b.

What are you really excited about right now? I designed a canapé and cocktail bar, Cafe Chateau, almost entirely – even the napkins and complimentary chocolates! I used a lot of new materials – I made these wobbly island shaped table-tops out of glass – and built up the layers of texture into Memphis inspired furnishings. The menus were themed such as ‘spanish passion’ or ‘oriental mirage.’ We served marbled eggs, coconuts, pastel refreshments, layered jellies, and crème caramels in scallop shells. It was a complete holiday to product design and hospitality! And by that visitation I was able to have a casualness in the way I expressed ideas. It’s a space full of prototypes, and even like this you are able to theatrically control audience experience of a textured space.  I got all my overlapping surfaces and ideas I could wish for. I’m also working on something coming up for Lucky PDF.