Broadway Malyan Architect wins national photography competition / by Broadway Malyan

Starling Vortex

A photograph that captured the moment thousands of birds descended on a UK seaside town has scooped a coveted national award for a Broadway Malyan architect.

Matthew Cattell, an Associate at the practice’s Reading studio, took the top prize in the Landscape Photographer of the Year awards for his ‘Starling Vortex’ image.

Matthew Cattell

Matthew Cattell

The photograph, which forms the centrepiece of an exhibition of winning images at Waterloo Station until February 2017, captures the murmuration of hundreds of thousands of starlings which roost on Brighton pier every year.

Matthew, who started taking photographs after inheriting his grandfather’s metal pentax camera, said he took the award winning photograph after taking his parents to the pier to witness the phenomenon.


He said: “During the winter months hundreds of thousands of starlings assemble at Brighton Pier to roost for the night and the birds gather in large flocks and perform beautiful aerial displays before dropping down to the relative safety of the structure below.

“Standing on the pier allows the viewer to witness these murmurations from within as the birds flow and cascade around you and the windy conditions had whipped up the foam on the surface of the sea and I liked the way the motion of the incoming tide mimicked the movement of the birds.

“Rather than ‘freeze’ the action I used a longer exposure to exaggerate this vortex of motion and I retained the ruins of the West Pier to help locate the image. Whilst the light wasn’t ‘golden’ it had a silvery purple quality that muted the colours of the scene.

“The wind was also really strong and it had imparted an energy into the sea - turning it into a strong mix of sand and white foam and the moving components worked so well against the static ruins of the pier.”

 The winning photograph, which beat thousands of submissions to win the overall title, was described as “an intriguing image” by the founder of the awards Charlie Waite.

“The sense of movement is palpable in Matthew's photograph and you really feel what it would have been like to stand beside him," Mr Waite said.

"The starlings seem to be swirling around the iconic remains of Brighton's West Pier in a manner reminiscent of the tornado in the Wizard of Oz."

 An exhibition of the winning photographs will run at London’s Waterloo Station until February 5th 2017. To see more examples of Matthew’s work, go to

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