Samara Scott, artist: 'There is a Disneyland quality, a relentless toxic positivity to my work'

Karen Wright meets the artist in her modest studio in Brixton, south London

Click to follow

I have visited a wide variety of studios while writing this column, but few have been as modest as that of Samara Scott in Brixton, south London. Scott is exhausted from travelling and has sent me the wrong address, so I have already inadvertently explored the streets off Brixton Hill by the time I find her, standing resplendent in red. She takes me down a narrow passage into the back garden of a house where she and five fellow artists have transformed a former garage into workable studio spaces.

At the moment there is little to see. Stains of former works on the floor and some materials: tins of paint, rolls of wrapping paper, and neatly if incongruously labelled plastic boxes: flock, sand and dust.

For Scott's recent show at Eastside Projects in Birmingham, her first in a publicly funded British gallery, a list of well over 100 materials used included glitter toothpaste, glitter hair spray and fabric conditioner, as well as plastic grapes, beach sand and pistachio shells.

Scott was born in London in 1985, studied at Camberwell and is of the generation that is unusually articulate about practice. She wants to set the record straight, she says, and objects to the common perception that because she uses "found materials", she is a lazy artist. She demonstrates this by showing me the top of her takeaway coffee and saying, "People ask me, 'Do you want this for your work?'."


I find myself defending the great lineage of ready-mades of Marcel Duchamp, the master himself, and wonder what he would have made of this engaging, rangy, female artist. Scott also takes the discourse into a contemporary arena, talking about the overdosing of images common to our world, looked at predominantly on devices of one sort or another. "I look around and I feel a relentless churningness of images," she says.

For all of the strange materials she employs, Scott's work appears beautiful. It's a problem, she says, adding: "There is a high-street, Disneyland quality, a relentless toxic positivity to the work. I am using seduction as a tool to lure people in." Unlike Duchamp's ready-mades, usually serene in their simplicity, Scott says that everything she does "confuses things; it is a confused world".

Scott is most interested in site-specific work. She wants her pieces to "nestle, snuggle and embed" themselves into their locations. At her show in Birmingham, she implanted her works in the floor, carving out containers in the concrete to hold hair gel, shampoo and fabric conditioner, to name a few of its "wet elements". It did start to smell pretty funky by the close of the exhibition, she admits.

Samara Scott, Still Life, at Jupiter Artland, part of Edinburgh Art Festival, to 27 September