Modern Times is proud to present Compositions, a bold and energetic exhibition of still life photographs by Melbourne/Naarm-based artist Shelley Horan.

This collection considers how vibrancy can be produced and seen across the different shapes of everyday things and asks the question, what hidden energies begin in one object and transfer through the surface of another?

Explore more about Horan’s process behind creating this undoubtedly fun and refreshing series on the Journal, and check out some of her favourite tunes to listen to in the studio whilst creating the works here.

Exhibition Dates
27 October – 8 November, 2022

Exhibition Opening

6-8pm, Thursday 27 October – please remember to BYO vessel!
Wurundjeri, 311 Smith Street, Fitzroy

Exhibition Partners
Blackhearts & Sparrows
Molly Rose Brewing

Pictured: 'Composition #20 (Tenessee Trash; White Stripe) with Screwdriver, Tomato Sauce and Milk Bottle'

Compositions is an original series featuring ordinary, everyday objects reimagined through the discerning eye of the artist.

Horan approaches sundry household items and discarded objects in the same way she approaches her human subjects – with care, curiosity and a flair for bringing out personality and unique energy. Items meant for domestic, recreational and functional use become unusual stacks, packs and sprawls. Their forms fuse into unexpected, engrossing assemblages.

All the pieces are scene partners; they play off each other and stir up atmospheres that weren't in the original script. ”
— Shelley Horan
Pictured: 'Composition #3 (Date Night) with Petroleum Jelly, Menthol Troat Lozenges, Remote Control, Two-Minute Noodles, Earring,Ping Pong Ball, Disposable Razor, Kumquat and Bobby Pin' and 'Composition #23 (Fibre Optics) with Toothbrush and Raspberry'

Whist narratives can certainly be drawn from the combinations and placement of objects, Horan’s driving inspiration is the opportunity to manoeuvre the look and tangibility of the works themselves. Each shot was tailored to catch the peculiarities of each item under scrutiny.

The collection’s guiding impulse was to configure ordinary things together, until something ‘out of the ordinary’ issues from their interaction.”
— Shelley Horan

The resulting images are both a visual delight and a commentary on consumerist culture and the art of the product shot, and the series reflects the creative tension between realising images for commercial contexts and conceiving images as fine art.

Pictured: 'Composition #25 (No Soup For You) with Sugar Bowl, Cake Knife, Flood Lamp, Estee Lauder Travel Perfume, Dinner Plate, Crystal Platter, Tea Cups, Vase, Glass Buttons, Ladles and Butter Dish'

Compositions ultimately challenges the viewer to consider objects which we often may not stop to notice. Could everyday items like these have lives that we don’t know about, outside our regular patterns of use?

Horan’s photography advances a fantastic notion that objects have complex lifespans and possibilities beyond the momentary attention we give them.

Still, life: the endurance and energy of things, despite all other forces.

Shop the Exhibition

Related content