You know the psychiatric test where you get given words or images that you have to think of associations with? I'd be rubbish at it. Say 'living dolls', and the images that come to mind are that of Chucky, Slappy, and other grotesque puppets from horror films. Say the words 'little' and 'black' together, and I immediately follow that with 'cat', 'magic', 'voodoo', and 'Gothic'.
So when I heard about a Living Dolls exhibition at a place called The Little Black Gallery, you can imagine my surprise to find out that it was something very different indeed. I suppose I should have been thinking more along the lines of a kinky little black dress.
He was best known for photographing both male and female models in latex, which was part of his final exhibition in 2004 titled Love-Dolls Never Die. Clarke liked using rubber, vinyl, and latex because 'it contained a body, concealing imperfections and defining contours beneath a gleaming synthetic skin.' He also preferred to use anonymous models, as he did not want them to be recognisable. It was not about the person, but about the form.
For his final exhibition in 2004, Clarke created a satirical series called Love-Dolls Never Dies. His first venture into digital, it was a social comment on all the things he detests about about the fashion industry. The pictures are enhanced, retouched, air-brushed, and manipulated to create a perfect image.
As a tribute to the tenth anniversary of this exhibit, Living Dolls features photographs from the Love-Dolls series, as well as one-off images, and eighteen black and white pictures. It will remain open to the public until the 21st June.