Photographer and writer Colin Pantall’s work has consistently focused on domestic environments, with thoughtful representations of youth and family which, when viewed together, link to wider themes. All Quiet on the Home Front, his first and highly anticipated book, concentrates the feeling that permeates many of his photographs into a publication of 48 images of his daughter, Isabel, growing up around their home in Bath.
Photographed between 2005-2017, the 12-year longevity of the project is a breath of fresh air. Each of the photographs displays a moment many can relate to: going to the beach, playing in a wood, the cold hit of a sprinkler in your back garden on a hot day. In turn, Colin’s collection of photographs are the kind you want to take time looking through, sparking your own memories of growing up, and remembering how much, personally or generally, can change over 12 years of childhood.
“When Isabel was a baby I had a dream,” Colin says when explaining All Quiet on the Home Front’s first beginnings. “In the dream it was Christmas. We lived above a pub in a single room crammed with old pub furniture. In one corner was a Christmas tree. It had real candles, all of which were balanced precariously on the tree’s branches. It also had electric lights which were plugged into the socket using bare sparking wires. And instead of sitting in a bowl of water, it sat in a bowl of acid. That sense of claustrophobia, morbidity, and anxiety is apparent in All Quiet on the Home Front.
This anxious dream around the birth of a child is a feeling of apprehension often written about, and the starting point of many a visual project. But Colin’s take on this mammoth life moment takes away all the attention from himself, instead creating a poignant portrait of not only his daughter, but the cycle of being a father, and growing up as a whole. “It is a reflection of the fears that sat deep with me all when I became a parent; the fear of my daughter’s death, my own death, and my built-in obsolescence and redundancy as a parent,” he says. To escape this claustrophobia, the banging off the walls and the endless ‘playing’, I took Isabel outside into the landscapes around our home in Bath. The woods of Brown’s Folly, growing out of the contours of an old stone mine, the scrappy box track build on the banks of the River Avon, and the Celtic hilltop of Solsbury Hill became our playground.”
As a result, the book depicts the landscapes that surrounded the Pantall’s home, “where both Isabel and I found ourselves and this book tells that story,” says the photographer. “It’s the story of becoming a child and becoming a father. It’s a self-portrait".
All Quiet on the Home Front is available via IVCL Studio.
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