Nigel Shafran came to prominence in the 1990s for his new approach to fashion photography. Since then, he has shifted his attention towards a more intimate relationship between the photographer and the photographed. For Shafran this is described through the people, places and objects that fulfil an important part in his daily life; and includes series such as Ruthbook (1992- 1995); Dad’s Office (1996-1998), a father and son’s relationship revealed through photographed objects; and Washing Up 2000, a diary of over 160 annotated photographs of dishes left to dry.

Shafran continues this interest with Compost Pictures, 2008-9. Like all of his work, these images are not constructed for the camera, but are everyday scenes that he chooses to photograph in the given light. Here, the subject is a closely framed corner of a kitchen; prominent within each photograph is a small purple bowl, containing organic matter ready for the compost pile. These seemingly simple photographs are understated and gentle in what they convey; it’s possible just to dwell on the domestic detail in each, but also possible to read, with ease, a more abstract sense of the movement of time, of light tracing over objects, of time slowed down to a stillness. A sequence of recorded repetitions, these photographs quietly document an enjoyment of the ordinary phenomena of the everyday.

This booklet is published on the occasion of an exhibition at Charleston in Sussex, the country retreat of the Bloomsbury artist group and hub of artistic and intellectual activity. It seems appropriate then that Shafran’s work, which centres the domestic and familial, is shown in such a place.


Celia Davis, Head of projects, Photoworks