'I thought being that father in the landscape would go on for ever. But Isabel grew up and so did I.’
Those are the last lines of text in All Quiet on the Home Front and it rings truer than ever, the way the immediacy of fatherhood recedes into the distance. All Quiet on the Home Front is about my daughter. But it’s also a book of landscapes. And I’m the landscapes.
So it’s a self-portrait. This picture of Roundhill in Bath is a self-portrait of me at the end of the book, a barren mound, half-dead in the cold mid-winter. It was so difficult to find a way into this work, to transform All Quiet on the Home Front from a random selection of images into an actual book where the randomness was given a structure and made coherent. It was Katherine who put me on the right track.
The problem was I’d photographed so much that I had lost track of what All Quiet was about. Then my wife came and looked at one of my edits and said, “Can’t you see? This is you. You’re in the landscapes. From the day she was born, you’ve been taking her out… This is the story of how you developed your relationship with Isabel through the landscape. That’s what All Quiet on the Home Front is. It’s a self-portrait of you as the landscape.” She could see right through the mass of images into the heart of the matter. She’d seen how I had come to identify with the places we visited, and the sadness and sense of loss that came about when Isabel grew up and we stopped visiting these places. Sometimes another person can see so clearly what is right in front of your eyes.