egg

egg

The year is 1984, and after approaching fine art photographer and renaissance man Gregg Shellman with a commission to produce a series of photographs on the theme of ‘egg’, we receive nothing back for sixty three days. Finally, a torn manila envelope arrives, post-marked Nepal. It contains one photograph, along with a hand-written receipt for a single egg, from a small poultry farm in Motupe, Peru. Three years later, whilst exploring the archive held at The National Library of Bhutan, a researcher came across a folder containing 35 other photographs, and a diary. Below, we have included some of these photographs, along with excerpts from what has come to be known as ‘the Shellman egg diary’. 

“The egg has to be…the egg. I may have found it. I really want to connect with the subject – I have locked myself away in my inspiration room with the egg. We stare at each other. The egg knows me, and I know it.”

G. Shellman
The original image received from Shellman shows an artist in absolute harmony with the subject. The chiaroscuro lighting asks the question, what does the egg hide?

“One is beginning to realise just how special the egg is, we see the egg-shape in only one thing in nature, the egg – and everything that is egg shaped is an egg. I cannot decide how best to do justice to the egg in my work.”

G. Shellman
Compositionally similar to the image Shellman finally chose, this earlier image loses the stark lighting, allowing the viewer to engage with the whole surface of the egg.

“Today I consider the endian question. Is it compositionally relevant? Is it philosophically relevant? I approach the egg with my camera as if to take it by surprise, and become almost angry that it lays simply upon its side”

G. Shellman
This image, probably taken in Peru, shows an artist still getting to know the subject. Whilst the photographs are undated, researchers believe this image relates to Shellmans ‘surprise the egg’ diary entry.

It has been five weeks now. The egg is a demanding muse – I have shot not even a single roll of film, and the answer to the question, what is ‘egg’, remains elusive.”

G. Shellman
The only known image of Shellman and the egg, it is thought that this is the first image Shellman took.

Today, I ate an omelette.

G. Shellman
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