Interface Images
Landscape by Keith Ratcliffe  
© 2009

Why Interface Images?

The name is not obvious so perhaps it needs a few words of explanation. The idea surfaced in 1983 while I was working as a Training Officer on a YTS (Youth Training Scheme) programme in Derbyshire. I was visiting a group of trainees who were renovating an old church hall in New Mills and their Supervisor who knew about my interest in photography asked me to talk to them about my pictures. I showed them some of my black & white prints of the local area and after a few awkward silences one of them, Kenny – a spike haired punk, asked a question that had a stunning observational source. “ They all about edges - aren't they?” I thought for a moment and looked again at the prints and out it came. “They are all designed to show the interfaces between different elements in the landscape.” “ Oh Yea I get it now” said the lad – I really think he meant it but his mates thought he was taking the mickey and laughed, bringing an end to the lunch break. Thus the idea was born – I intended to build a portfolio of images that illustrated the interfaces in nature – the edges where elements met.

I can’t say that this has been a focused mission but over the following years I noticed that many of my images had the edge component that qualified them for inclusion in the interface portfolio. The initial desire to produce a hit list of images to collect soon fell by the wayside and was replaced by “ Lets see what comes my way that fits”. What’s more the exploration of the concept of the interface has also progressed. Initially the edges were physical – sea & sky, rock layers, wall boundaries & field patterns. Later the idea extended to historical edges or human – natural interfaces.
Boats on North Third

Ambitions of developing my hobby into something that might be called a business meant that I needed a name and a letterhead. Using some very basic photo software I turned a very grainy picture of a lone tree on a skyline into a design that incorporated the name – Interface Images. I got it printed in green on buff paper and was rather pleased with the result. It was rarely used as the ‘business’ never really grew but the name stuck and was given real meaning by the launch of my first website.

There was a steep learning curve associated with web authoring using an early version of Dreamweaver but the basic idea of pictures combined with writing has lasted well into the latest design. I was particularly pleased to find a quote by Fay Godwin whose work I have always admired ever since I saw one of her pictures in The Land exhibition in London in 1976. In the foreword to her book “The Edge of the Land” she says  “These photographs show man’s essential and natural affinity with the land, and nowhere is this more poignantly apparent in a seafaring nation than at the interface between rock and water, terra firma and the tidal ocean.” I like to think that I am taking that idea further by exploring other interfaces.

Yet to date I have never assembled the full portfolio – perhaps to do so would signal completion and finality and close down the source of inspiration for my pursuit of new pictures – for it is true that I am now much more sensitised to this concept and seem to see interfaces everywhere. I think it is better to retain it as a framework for my photography and occasionally calibrate my understanding by stock take projects. One such is a gallery on the website that illustrates the interface concept and indeed that is what I have launched alongside this latest Landscape essay. To visit the gallery click here Interface

© Keith Ratcliffe

January 2009

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