Radcliffe's images made at York House Hospice are probably some of the most difficult to view. Even when his pictures center on the touching connection between two individuals preparing to be separated, as in those showing Larry and Frank , or Roger and Dave together, they pierce to the raw heart of terrible illness. More than any of the other images in this project, Radcliffe's communicate the overwhelming effort demanded of the patient by the call to live, to respond to others, when sick unto death.
All of the individuals photographed by Jack Radcliffe were suffering with AIDS; most of them came to York House from humble circumstances; many had led lives of extraordinary insecurity and deprivation.
One of the many amazing attributes of Radcliffe's perception of these people, given the difficulties of their lives past and present, is the sheer vividness of their presence, the sharp individuality and fierce humanity elicited by the camera. Even without knowing the stories of the wonderful child Boo Boo, or the unforgettably proud and quick-witted Sheila, we feel in these mute pictures an almost eerie sense of the life-pulse, and the struggle of those captured in them.
Although Jack Radcliffe's pictures have a look of inevitability, as though they had composed themselves, in fact they are authoritatively crafted. Part of his technique relies on an insistent monumentality of composition, combined with a strong linear drive. His lens reaches right up into the gesture. Mass works in counterpoint with contour. For instance, in each image of the handsome, long-limbed Sheila, the angles of her body and the objects around her, the strong diagonals and curves of each outline in the picture, build a structure emphasizing the key visual element of her and of the picture - her huge, expressive eyes. As we analyze each image, we discover that each employs this same principle of locating some very particular feature - whether a way of posing the arms or body, or a distinctive droop of the jaw - and intuitively presents that feature through artfully empathic, rather than psychologically confrontational, means.
Here again, the pictures reflect a reality outside their boundaries. It is as though the presence of the hospice workers behind the scenes, the unceasing support of their patients' efforts to be aware and to be comfortable, enters the pictorial ambiance despite the single, minded concentration on the physical particularities of the people being photographed."
From Hospice: A Photographic Inquiry.Edited by Phillip Brookman, Jane Livingston and Dena Andre, copyright © 1996. A Bullfinch Press Book. Published by Little, Brown and Company: Boston, New York, Toronto, and London. In Association with the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the National Hospice Foundation.