I've wanted to share this body of work with you for a while now, and my sighting of starlings today makes it the appropriate time to do so. Simon Bromley is a fellow recent graduate from the University of Wales, Newport. The BA (Hons) Documentary Photography course, which Simon graduated from, is a long-running and highly regarded course with some real successes. There's also a playful rivalry between the Doc Phot'ers and Photo Art'ers (my old course) which stemmed from a superiority complex of the former. Photographic Art is a relatively new course but for the past few years the students and tutors have equally matched the successes of its' documentary counterparts.
Documentary photography can take many guises, and my personal Masters of photography all sit quite comfortably under this umbrella. With everything in life, though, progress is needed, and I now find interest in the photography that crosses the boundaries between documentary and art.
mur.mur.a.tion |ˌmərməˈrā sh ən|
1 the action of murmuring: the murmuration of a flock of warblers.
2 rare a flock of starlings.
It begins with a small ensemble, slowly the murmuration grows to a crescendo of sound and sight. The tiny wing beats of hundreds and thousands of starlings soaring overhead, the air shivers with excitement.
Pouring across the sky in their hundreds and thousands, the starling roost at the Newport Wetlands Nature Reserve displays almost daily during the winter months. The reasons behind their magnificent performances are largely unknown, though it has been suggested that it is a ploy to confuse predators.
Sadly, these spectacular displays are becoming an increasingly rare phenomenon. Recent years have seen starling populations across much of Europe decline dramatically. The RSPB officially lists starlings as a ‘RED Status’ bird, which indicates that UK breeding populations have declined severely in the last twenty-five years; by ‘at least 50%’. Human development and expansion has destroyed their roosting sites, forcing the flocks to abandon their feeding areas. The Wetlands Nature Reserve at Newport offers wildlife an opportunity to escape the devastating effects that humanities relentless expansion has on our world.
During a turbulent period in my life the wetlands became a space of escapism for myself and, subsequently, the starlings too became symbolic of my desires to take flight from the city and the strains of everyday life.
The series consists of eleven photographs in total. Produced as a limited edition portfolio box of signed digital c-type prints (20"x24") and individually produced, signed, digital c-type exhibition prints (30"x36").
This body of work was one of the stand-outs from the 2010 Documentary Photography Degree exhibition for me, but unfortunately has had a turbulent time of late. A series of unfortunate events involving a certain visiting tutor stealing the title of Bromley's work to pass on to his colleague has unfortunately meant that all Bromley's hard work with regards to the title and context of the images has in fact been used by another artist. It is despicable that a tutor and mentor to the students has abused the trust students have on him like this for his own personal gain. However unjust and angry this tale is though, Bromley can be commended for carrying on, head high. I'm not sure I could dust myself off so readily after pouring a year's worth of blood, sweat and tears into a project.
For more information about the artist, please view his blog.