Halcyon Song

Justin Coombes

Egg Thieves

A ‘halcyon’ is a mythical bird, often identified as a kingfisher, said to calm the wind and waves from its floating nest, and so was a natural choice of protagonist for my work, where I often fuse the fantastical and the everyday. Here, the pictures show the viewpoint of a female kingfisher as she searches for nesting sites along the length of London’s Regents Canal which runs along my commute from flat to studio.

When I first conceived of ‘Halcyon Song’, I was reading James Joyce’s Ulysses and wanted to make a project that similarly described a daily, familiar journey of some sort. From this, I developed the idea of the kingfisher’s search for a nest taking place over the course of a day, and this day being a microcosm of her world and a greater search for home and for meaning.

By Justin Coombes.


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You can see Justin Coombes’s work in the new issue of Granta,

Competition: In this issue of Granta, Claire Shea brings us an image of a post-it note memorial in Peckham, Anthony Rush captures the mist lifting over a disused barracks in Omagh and here Justin Coombes takes us on a journey along Regents Canal, through the eyes of a kingfisher. What does your Britain look like? We’d love to see this country we call home from your perspective. Send us pictures of your
for a chance to be showcased by Granta online. Entries should be posted directly to our
. The top three will be chosen by Francesca Sears and Adrian Evans of Panos Pictures and published on granta.com and our associated social media. The three winners will also receive a copy of Granta 119:
. Competition closes on 14 June. By submitting your work you are thereby granting permission for it to be published, if selected by the judges.