Flo Brooks

Inner Bark Out

Flo Brooks has created a large-scale painting for Clapham – the artist’s first permanent public commission. Launched on 25 January 2023, the work is presented on a bridge underpass on Bedford Road in Clapham North – a short walk from Studio Voltaire. 

Inner Bark Out centres on Clapham Common as a unique site of gathering, exploring the social, political and ecological threads encountered and generated in public parks and commons. The work weaves historical narratives into the everyday uses of public space to celebrate the myriad ways the Common has been utilised over the last fifty years.

A constellation-like painting on aluminium panels, Inner Bark Out illustrates a lively contemporary scene of people and animals engaged in moments of play, work and rest. Referencing the many histories of occupation and activism connected to the Common, Brooks has inserted fragments of placards and ephemera linked to protests, gatherings and vigils in the area; suggesting individual and collective experiences that have shaped and informed the space over time.  

Visual clues throughout the work suggest some of the LGBTQIA+ and feminist histories associated with Clapham Common: Divine performing at ‘Alternative Miss World’ beauty pageant in October 1978; The Women’s Peace Camp protesting nuclear weapons in May 1983; gay theatre group Homo Promos’s revival of the production Teatrolley performed at midnight in 1991; the safer cruising campaigns of the 1990s organised by queer UK direct action group OutRage; and the third ever Pride which took place on the Common in 1997. 

The artwork also references important heritage sites, including the Holy Trinity Church, ‘the Cock Pond’ and Temperance Fountain, a sculpture erected by the Temperance Society in 1895. Images of CCTV cameras, drones and signage further suggest the contested nature of public space at large and the ways it has been monitored, regulated and commercialised. 

Over the past three years, Brooks has spent time speaking with Clapham residents and Clapham Common users including historians and photographers, and researching at Lambeth Archives, The Lesbian and Gay Newsmedia Archive (LAGNA), The Hall Carpenter Archives and the Digital Transgender Archive. 

The title Inner Bark Out refers to the 1987 poem The Laying-On of Hands by Pattiann Rogers, which speaks to a gentleness of touch between living beings, a movement from interior to exterior – the tiny aphid sitting on a leaf, the parakeet making its home in a tree, the bark of the dog and the shedding bark on the tree. 

Inner Bark Out forms part of Clapham Public Realm Programme produced by Studio Voltaire in partnership with This is Clapham BID. The project has been supported with funding from Lambeth Council, This is Clapham BID and Arts Council England, with support from Project Native Informant and Network Rail.

Visiting Information

Bridge underpass, Bedford Road, Clapham North, SW4 7EF.
The closest station is Clapham North (2 minutes) and Clapham High Street Overground (4 minutes).

Access Information

The artwork can be viewed at street level from the pavement.

  1. Flo Brooks (b. 1987, UK) is an artist based in West Cornwall. He works across painting, collage, publication, installation and social practice, often working in archives as a starting point for developing new work. Brooks has exhibited across the UK and internationally. Recent exhibitions have included ‘Be tru to your rec’ at Project Native Informant (2022); ‘Angletwich’, Brighton CCA (2020-2021); ‘Kiss My Genders’, Hayward Gallery, London (2019); ‘Scrubbers’, Project Native Informant, London (2018); and ‘Is now a good time?’, Cubitt Gallery, London (2017). A major institutional solo show at Spike Island will open in June 2023. Brooks is represented by Project Native Informant.

  2. The London Borough of Lambeth is home to many diverse communities. Lambeth Council provides services such as planning, social work, housing and schools to 303,000 residents and hundreds of businesses. Lambeth includes the world class cultural hub of the South Bank, the bustling street markets of Brixton, the open spaces of Clapham and Streatham Commons and the exciting regeneration of Vauxhall. The borough is rich in history and is very well connected, close to central London and the City.

  3. This is Clapham is a Business Improvement District (BID), established in October 2014. The BID’s overarching aim is to improve Clapham as a place to work, live, visit and do business. Their work is focused on four key themes, which are: promote, enhance, safe and connect. Under these themes, the BID delivers projects such as free business recycling, additional street cleaning, local area marketing and reducing crime and anti-social behaviour.

  4. Benedict Johnson

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