Aesthetica Art Prize Call for Entries Countdown: Darren Nisbett’s Nostalgic Photography

Darren Nisbett is a photographer who has been exhibiting in group and solo shows for three years. His imagery explores the border zones between nostalgia and nature, and his piece Anesthetic was selected for the Aesthetica Art Prize Longlist of 100 artists. He experiments with different print media, including aluminium panels as well as traditional paper, and has exhibited at the 2013 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. We ask Nisbett about his approach to photography.

A: Your images focus on rooms and objects that are decaying and no longer hold a practical use. What draws you to these places and surroundings for the subject matter of your photography?
DN: It’s odd what you find in your memories when thinking about what inspires you today. When I was growing up, my father seemed to be always at car boot sales bringing home all manner of useless bric-a-brak, these dusty old clunky reel to reel players, computers and cameras which wouldn’t work at all but had a mystery and fascination all to themselves.

I remember that everyone hated them at the time and couldn’t understand the attraction but I think some of that nostalgia and mystery of these objects and finding nuggets of the past stayed with me. These places are also escapism for me, the silence and stillness and room to think is an important part of my photography and it’s what keeps me going back to them.

A: What do your images challenge the audience to consider?
DN: I would like to think that people see the same kind of stories, or make up stories for themselves, whether that is about the lives of the people that touched these places or the places themselves. I think that every building and object has some sort of energy especially in the older places, you can really feel that I try and emphasise that stillness and silence in my images.

A: You mention you find inspiration in films and music. Which works have particularly inspired you?
DN: I used to DJ quite a bit and so I have a vast collection of old vinyl drum&bass and hiphop, which I still play. I tend to stay away from the mainstream music and like finding smaller artists and unusual music to listen to. There is a phrase called “digging in the crates” which means trying to find something unique to play in your set which is a notion that I try to use in my photography.

I love old movies and especially the old sci-fi films – it’s fascinating that they managed to create these futuristic landscapes with limited resource and I think we have lost some of the art of storytelling and imagination with today’s 3D super effect films. Star wars is one of my favourite films and I went to visit the abandoned film sets in Tunisia last year, which was a truly amazing experience.

A: The entire process of producing a photograph with a specific and individual aesthetic is a distinctive aspect of your practice. How do you edit the photograph to create the final outcome?
DN: I’m usually not happy with the images that come straight from the camera, I know that there is a divide in photographers, some who insist on images in their pure form, but for me I like to pull the atmosphere out of the image and end up with a final image that reminds me of the place, which doesn’t always equate to how it looks.

To see more of Darren Nisbett’s work visit

Enter the Aesthetica Art Prize at Entry is £15 and permits the submission of two works into one category.

Submissions close 31 August 2014. Prizes include £5,000 courtesy of Hiscox; group exhibition, publication, art books courtesy of Prestel and art supplies vouchers courtesy of Winsor & Newton.

1. Darren Nisbett, Anesthetic. Aesthetica Art Prize 2014: Photographic & Digital Longlist. Courtesy of the artist.

Follow us on Twitter @AestheticaMag for the latest news in contemporary art and culture.