All Quiet on the home front

Colin Pantall

2005 - 2017

United Kingdom

I never really knew who I was.

Then my daughter was born.

And I became a father.

And that is what I became.

All Quiet on the Home Front tells the story of how I learnt how to be a father. It shows how the initial domestic claustrophobia of taking care of my daughter, Isabel, in the confines of our flat was overcome through nature; by getting out of the house, by taking Isabel on walks in the fields and the woods surrounding our home in Bath. This is the story of how we came together in that landscape, of how these landscapes crystallised our relationship.

It’s also the story of the fears that came about because of being a father, the anxiety and doubt invaded my ideas of who I was. I lost myself when Isabel was born, before slowly regaining and redefining myself as she got older till finally, when Isabel became her own person, there was a new distance between us and a new person for me to become.

So it’s optimistic. It’s life affirming. It’s idealistic. It’s about mapping yourself in your natural surroundings and finding yourself reflected in the world around you. That’s what happened with Isabel and that’s what happened with me. I became the landscapes. It’s a portrait of my daughter, it’s a portrait of the landscapes we inhabit, and most of all it’s a self-portrait of my life as a father of a child, a life that has almost ended as that child has turned into a person with her own mind, her own identity, her own self.

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  • I never really knew who I was.
    Then my daughter was born.
    And I became a father.
    And that is what I became

  • The flat were we lived had its own topography.
    The places Isabel could climb or jump from.
    It was a forest of the imagination.

  • To get out of the house,
    I walked with Isabel in the hills
    and fields around our home.
    Wondering how to become the
    father I wanted to be.

  • I always wonder what might have
    been if we hadn’t had a child.
    Parents always wonder what
    might have been.

  • Isabel was eight when she
    started doubting my existence.
    “ What if there’s only me and
    you’re just in my mind? ”

  • I always was morbid but when
    Isabel was born the morbidity
    hit new levels.

  • One day, we were walking on top
    of the ridge above Rhossili Bay.
    Suddenly Isabel span around and shouted:
    ‘‘This is who I am.
    This is me!’’

  • I got to the point where I knew
    who I was as a father.
    We had a shared way of being,
    a shared way of seeing.
    It didn’t last long.

  • I thought being that father in the
    landscape would go on forever.
    But Isabel grew up and so did I.

  • She became herself. I'm still waiting.