Neil Shirreff

“Shirreff’s deconstruction of the colour process is ingenious and eccentric, but it requires a conceptual leap to understand its ramifications.”

James McArdle (On This Day in Photography, 8 December, 2017)

Neil Shirreff is a British artist and photographer based in London. His interest in photography has always lain in the alchemy of its materials and in its ability to describe a visual world beyond reach of the human eye. Currently the sense of wonder and excitement he holds for photography’s reactive properties has reduced all traces of realism in his images to abstraction. These projects demonstrate how, over time, Shirreff has stripped the medium to its bare essentials, and striven to innovate techniques that instil in the viewer the same curiosity and inquisitiveness he shares, for exploring the medium through its own prism.

He has exhibited in UK, Germany and Canada and his work is held in numerous private collections.

About the work:

Fragmented Paintings – Small mirror pieces’ shatter light from a projector scattering fragments of paintings by Paul Gauguin onto the surface of a ceiling. Captured on film over multiple exposures maelstrom of information eddies in the darkness. Colours and details severed from their source appear in flux. Whilst some pieces of light remain detached, others collide, binding together to form fragments of a new whole.

Light Rings and Light Lines are part of Light Arrange by Chance project based on the paintings “Spectrum Colours Arranged by Chance” by Ellsworth Kelly. This project proves the idea of visual representation and in its photographic form is best considered to be within the infinite possibilities of its multiplicity.

Light Rings – mechanical apparatus was built for the series where light sensitive paper spins on a record player.

Light Lines – colour transparency film fixed to a motorised 10 x 8 inch tray moves from side to side. As the light sensitive material moves flashes of coloured light are fired systematically through laser cut or acid-etched holes. In total each image is made up of 11500 flashes and the resulting image resembles the collection of complex pieces of data such as DNA. Light in this series appears as information that can now be used to gain a more detailed understanding of its source. It seemingly resembles a code that can be used to reveal the design of something new or a picture of something previously hidden from view.

The process involved in the making of each ring or line of light is identical, and potentially perfectly formed rings or lines of colour could be formed. However, chance determines the resulting image and the photograph acts as evidence of the picture making process.

Light Movements challenges the act of looking, our perception of colour and our fidelity to our sense of sight. The work comprises of colour luminograms in box-frames lit by colour changing LED lights.
The luminograms are made by firing flashes of light through laser cut holes that are covered with coloured gels. The exposures are recorded on light sensitive colour photographic paper and, once developed, are mounted and presented in 100 x 100 x 20cm box frames. Hidden from view in the frame, LED lights cast coloured light onto the luminogram. This light smoothly fades through a twelve colour spectrum.

Moving Shadows – a backlit white sheet captures the setting sun as it casts its light through woodland. In each image, a white rectangle floats in the landscape like a portal to another world or a film projection of shadows moving across a screen.


Cosmic Perspectives, Group Show, Curated by Lumen Studios, Ugly Duck, London, May 2018
Visible in Time, Group Show, Curated by Cat Cooke, South Hill Park Arts Centre, Berkshire, April 2018
Curiosity, Invention and the Photograph, Solo Show, MMX Gallery, London, Dec 2017
Photo London, MMX Gallery, Somerset House, London, May 2017
Light Bites, Group Show, Curated by Keith Watson & Alessandra Caggiano, Ugly Duck, London, January 2017
Winter Lights Festival, Group Show, Curated by Keith Watson, Canary Wharf, London, January 2017
Light Movements, Brewer’s Bar, London, November 2016
Saatchi Start Art Fair, Contini Art UK, London, September 2016
Chroma: Red Issue, Group Show, Safehouse 1 Gallery, London, January 2016
Artrooms 2016, Art Fair, Melia White House, London, January 2016
The Independent Artist Fair, Group Show, The Rag Factory, London, October 2015
The Independent Artist Fair, Group Show, Mile End Art Pavilion, London, October 2013
Allotments, Group Show, Schwartz Gallery, London, July 2012
The Open West, Group Show, Summerfield Gallery, Cheltenham, England, February 2009
Fallen, Group Show, F/Stop International Photography Festival, Leipzig, Germany, July 2008
Through The Lens, Group Show, The Royal West of England Academy, Bristol, England, June 2008
Westminster Open, Group Show, SW1 Gallery, London, England, August 2007
Here Today, Curated by Anne Kathrin Greiner and Neil Shirreff, Jersey Gallery, London, England, Sept 2006
Home Trappings, Group Show, Coach House Gallery, Sevenoaks, England, October 2005
In The Midst, Solo Show, Trinity Gallery, Tunbridge Wells, England, November 2004
Eye To The Horizons, Group Show, Marchmont Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland, October 2002
Photo Neola, Group Show, Pittenweem Arts Festival, Pittenweem, Scotland, August 2002
Napier University Degree Show, ESU Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland, July 2002
In The Midst: Aspects of Canadian Land, Joint Show, The Corridor Gallery, Lochgelly, Scotland, June 2002
In The Midst: Aspects of Canadian Land, Joint Show, The Filmhouse, Edinburgh, Scotland, May 2002
Images of Toronto’s Architecture, Group Show, The Bluffs Gallery, Toronto, Canada, May 2001


Honourable Mention, International Photography Awards, Fine Art, Abstract category, 2011
Honourable Mention, Flash Forward, The Magenta Awards, 2009
Honourable Mentions, International Photography Awards, in five categories, 2008
Winner, International Photography Awards, Fine Art, Abstract category, 2007
Honourable Mention, International Photography Awards, Fine Art, Landscape category, 2007
Shortlisted for the Next Level ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ Fine Art Photography Award, 2005
Shortlisted for Jerwood Photography Awards, 2003
Winner, The Hamilton Tait Award for Creative Photography, July 2002
Commended, Rollei Award of Excellence, May 2001
Winner, The Independent Student Awards, December 1998


2018 – ongoing MA, Fine Art, Chelsea College of Arts, UAL, London
2010 – 2012 PGCE in Lifelong Learning Sector, Greenwich University, London
1998 – 2002 First Class BA Hons Degree in Photography, Film and Imaging, Napier University, Edinburgh (includes a one year exchange to Ryerson, Toronto, Canada 2000 – 2001)

Book Publications

The Open West, published by The University of Gloucestershire, England, 2009
F/Stop 2nd International Photography Festival, published by F/Stop, Leipzig, Germany, 2008
2007 Annual IPA Book, published by the International Photography Awards, Los Angeles, USA, 2007