The Budgie Died Instantly

Nik Roche

2017 - Ongoing

'Not why the addiction but why the pain', Gabor Mate (2009)

This is a fully immersive documentary of human experience. It is without moral judgement in an attempt to raise awareness of the impact and subsequent effects of institutionalisation and addiction. Often, drug misuse is one of the many coping mechanisms used to self medicate against struggles with trauma related mental wellbeing.

I created this work in response to a chance meeting with someone who had been in prison for a significant part of his adult life. We formed an unusual friendship. I felt it important to highlight the misunderstanding that is ever present regarding addiction and crime. Often these are the result of a trauma in childhood.

This is the story of one man, however it applies to many people caught up in a cycle of addiction and institutionalisation typically resulting from un-treated mental health issues. The story explores a state of mind and a sense of place. He, like many others, was released from prison back into his home town, a place where expectations of him are such that he can only ever be the man he is. To survive, these suppositions often fuel an endless cycle crime and addiction.

I believe it is important to earn the right to photograph in the place that you do not come from. I earned my right by fully immersing myself into his life and learning the reality of his everyday. Without prejudice, my images show a raw insight and honest reflection of a place and how this impacts a person's ability to recover. Education and rehabilitation do very little when you live close to those who supply drugs and will do you harm if you do not maintain your reputation. It is a stark reminder of the difficulties that are faced daily.

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