For this exercise we were asked to look at Nigel Shafran’s series washing up and to answer some questions that were asked. Washing up (2000) is a series by Nigel Shafran that he took in 2000 that consisted of images showing washing up in his kitchen but occasionally somewhere else. The series of images have text included along with them and this usually goes in to detail about what had be eaten but sometimes included other interesting information.
4th January 2000. Three bean soup, cauliflower vegetable cheese. Morning coffee and croissants.
28th January 2000. Crumpets, tuna salad sandwich, seitan stew and rice.
31st January 2000. Horrible crumpets and Jill’s jam, rosehip tea, smoked salmon on bread and alphalfa sprout salad, apple, left over veg haggis, and seitan spinach and burnt rice to come!
25th April 2000. 8.00pm by Terry’s watch. Branflakes, toast, mint tea at John and Sara’s in Glasgow. Picked up Iranian pitta filled breads in Glasgow [eaten on motorway], Chicken Dalgleish, potatoes and veg, strawberry and apple sponge with cream at Jill and Terry’s with Jo, Kathy and Ruth.
with this series we do not know if Nigel himself did the washing up or if his wife had done it. By looking at the photographs the main thing you notice is how neat and tidy the washing up is stacked. My washing up never looks that neat. This could be an insight to the person who washes up could show that they are a tidy person.
I find this series a simple set of images and I find it quite an odd subject to approach and it did leave me wondering why Shafran would want to take on such a subject. Whilst having a look around his website at other series he had done I came across an interview with Paul Elliman.
Er, dunno really. It’s not supposed to be
an idea. I wanted to start the New Year with something
optimistic. And personal. Something with lots of shapes,
where shapes would change, keep changing
This style of photography is quite boring to me as its repetitive even though the items of washing up changes its not the most exciting thing to look at. I guess what I am trying to say politely is that I am not a fan of Nigel Shafran I feel quite harsh saying that but I am just being honest. I did take the time to look at his other series to see if they were more interesting but they really did not thrill me. I found one of his series funny as he photographed teen in a shopping centre this made me laugh because it looks like it was taken in the 80s and there is some outrageous hair do and clothing.
Did it surprise you that this was taken by a man?
No not really, its just a pile of washing up men wash up all the time.
In your opinion does gender contribute to the creation of an image?
I do not think that gender contributes to the creation of a photograph that really does depend on more so of interests, hobbies and personality. I do think that there would be different outcomes if the same photograph was taken by a man and by a women due to different approaches and thinking. As men think differently to women.
What does this series achieve by not including people?
I think by not including people it adds some mystery as we do not know what Ruth (Nigel’s wife) looks like or even Nigel for that matter. From just looking at the image we know someone has been there and done the washing up by adding people I think this would then change the feel of the series by quite a lot from a still life series by adding people you then maybe be shifting it towards the lines of social documentary.
Do you regard them as interesting still life compositions?
I regard them as being still life compositions but Interesting still life compositions is a bit of a push for me. I appreciate what this series is and there is a good use of shapes that help make the composition more interesting to the eye. Its a personal take on the everyday routine of cooking, eating, washing up and putting away the dishes. We are invited to take a look and have an idea of what happened before hand and what will happen after the text also helps us to get more of an insight.