Nigel Shafran’s Work Books 1984 – 2018

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Nigel Shafran first came to fame in 1990 with a series of images published by i-D; showing teenage shoppers in a down-at-heel precinct in Ilford, it was the antithesis of a high-end fashion shoot. His first venture into publishing, Ruthbook, had a similarly pared-down approach; showing his girlfriend shot mostly at home, in her dressing gown, say, or blowing her nose, alongside details such as crumbs on a kitchen work surface, a pot on the stove, or a hair stuck on a bar of soap. Shafran hand-wrote the title, in pencil, on all 600 copies.

Series on kitchen sinks, charity shops, and tube escalators followed, and though Shafran has carved out an enviable career, commissioned by clients such as British Vogue, Love, Loewe and the V&A, and publishing with Steidl and MACK Books, he’s retained his lo-fi style. When BJP interviewed him in 2015 he offered up a doodled-on cover of Flowers for ____ as one of the accompanying images; his 2016 publication Dark Rooms featured hand-drawn curves inspired by the film poster for A Matter of Life and Death.

Now he’s found a new twist on this everyday approach, putting his work books on show. Dating from 1984 right up to 2018 they’re a creative insight into his working process and life, and a typically understated collection – though it’s the inaugural exhibition at Sion and Moore, the gallery co-founded by art director Kim Sion and Lucy Moore, owner of Claire de Rouen bookshop.

Nigel Shafran Work Books 1984-2108 is on show at Sion and Moore, 4 Herald Street, London E2 6JT from 18 May – 07 June https://nigelshafran.com/ The website www.sionandmoore.com will be going live soon. Nigel Shafran Work Books 1984-2108 is a Photo London satellite event https://photolondon.org/public-programme/satellite-events/

Filofax 1984 from Works Books 1984 – 2018 © Nigel Shafran, courtesy of Sion and Moore
Nigel Shafran, Filofax 1984 from Works Books 1984 – 2018 © Nigel Shafran, courtesy of Sion and Moore
Nigel Shafran, NYC:1985 from Works Books 1984 – 2018 © Nigel Shafran, courtesy of Sion and Moore
Nigel Shafran, Paris 1989 from Works Books 1984 – 2018 © Nigel Shafran, courtesy of Sion and Moore
Nigel Shafran, chicken pox self portrait diary page 1991 from Works Books 1984 – 2018 © Nigel Shafran, courtesy of Sion and Moore
Nigel Shafran, Athens 2012 from Works Books 1984 – 2018 © Nigel Shafran, courtesy of Sion and Moore
Derbyshire 2012 from Works Books 1984 – 2018 © Nigel Shafran, courtesy of Sion and Moore
Nigel Shafran, London 2013 from Works Books 1984 – 2018 © Nigel Shafran, courtesy of Sion and Moore
Diane Smyth

Diane Smyth is a freelance journalist who contributes to publications such as The Guardian, The Observer, The FT Weekend Magazine, Creative Review, The Calvert Journal, Aperture, FOAM, IMA, Aesthetica and Apollo Magazine. Prior to going freelance, she wrote and edited at BJP for 15 years. She has also curated exhibitions for institutions such as The Photographers Gallery and Lianzhou Foto Festival. You can follow her on instagram @dismy