The big picture: Niall McDiarmid’s world on a plate

·2 min read

Niall McDiarmid, a Scottish photographer based in London, has, as a daily preface to other projects, been taking photographs of his breakfast table for the past four years. The pictures, invariably sunlit, concentrate on the shifting geometries of bowl and plate, toast and cereal, and quietly assume the meditative qualities of still lifes. Collectively, in his new book, Breakfast, they invite a sense of possibility, newness, ritual.

“For me,” he says, “breakfast is a peaceful time, a time of reflection. It is also a time to contemplate the day ahead and to believe that better times are coming. As Ian Fleming wrote, ‘Hope makes a good breakfast. Eat plenty of it.’”

The series really came together under lockdown, when his home became a more central focus of his work. The pictures are more artful the longer you look; the accidental palette of place mats here are the planetary bodies in a little domestic harmony of the spheres – the moons of coffee cup, table-tennis ball and marmalade pot circle timelessly; there are shooting stars in the butter knives. Just for a morning-has-broken moment, everything in the universe, or at least beside the kitchen window, seems in its right and proper place.

The photographs invite you to look for similar little framed gestalts in among your own cornflakes and egg cups, now that your eye is in. Perhaps, too, you are reminded of that seminal dialogue between the original Zen duo, Pooh and Piglet.

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.

Breakfast by Niall McDiarmid is published by Hey Little Heroes (£35)

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting