Billy Barraclough’s Murmurations captures the mass gatherings of starlings

Barraclough started the series during the first lockdown of 2020, when he opened a box of photographs and notebooks left by his late father and found snapshots of his younger self chasing starlings in Blackpool.

The photographer, who’s based in London, started taking images of murmurations – the name given to a flock of starlings – in an effort to reconnect with nature, and reflect on the loss of freedom experienced by many during lockdown.

“The ‘normal’ functioning of nature and the environment had continued and despite our lockdowns, mask wearing, sanitising everything and moving across space with anxiety, the trees were still losing their leaves, the birds were still migrating for winter and the murmurations were still happening in the same place and same time every day,” says Barraclough, who recently finished his MA in photography at Bristol UWE.

Barraclough’s images emphasise the startling nature of murmurations, capturing their crescendo from a few dozen birds hanging together in the sky to something that resembles a boiling cloud. Verses written by Lue Mac accompany the images, also inspired by Mac’s own experience watching starlings from their home in rural Dorset.

Besides Press, the book’s publisher, is a newly founded outlet that promises to celebrate “projects that are created with an impulsive curiosity, without deliberation and often without an audience in mind”. Murmurations is one of three new books that will be released by the publisher in October.

Murmurations is published by Besides Press; besidespress.com; billybarraclough.com


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