A homage to the humble pigeon

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At its best, art can reveal new sides of situations, objects, or ideas that we thought we already knew. It can transform the mundane and make it brilliant, it can uncover connections between seemingly different phenomena, it can point to the wonder that is always present in our surroundings, but that we perhaps fail to pay much attention to.

Photographer Andrew Garn has followed this route with a photo series that honours a creature that is often ignored, shunned to the background, and shooed away. For city dwellers the world over there is a ubiquitous bird that keeps us company, that we take for granted: the humble pigeon. Disdainfully dubbed the “winged rat” by some, the pigeon is really an impressive creature. They are intelligent birds that have been living alongside humans for thousands of years. Messenger pigeons have been used as flying postmen to carry letters between islands, they have served in the world wars, sneaking behind enemy lines, and they have even successfully helped rescue people lost at sea, using their ability to see colour to identify orange survival vests. Domestic pigeons and feral pigeons are all the same species, so the head-bobbing birds you see around you in the city are from same ilk of talented creatures.

Andrew Gary has been following, rescuing, and photographing the pigeons of New York for a decade, and has recently released a book, The New York Pigeon, that showcases some of his most impressive photographs. Garn has taken detailed, beautiful portraits of the birds. The photos reveal a unique character in every sitter, demonstrating how varied the pigeons’ colouring can be. Look closer and notice the details our eyes normally simply skim over: the iridescent greens and pinks, the questioning amber eyes, the elegant shapes of wings in flight. When looking for ideas for new creative projects, perhaps it may pay to look a little closer at your surroundings — inspiration can be found in the most mundane of things.