This Folio Life: Honouring the poems of Wilfred Owen

Neil Bousfield’s sensitive work was the perfect commission for the third and final book in Folio’s limited edition War Poets series. Neil lives in Norfolk, fortuitously the same county as Victoria Hall, who has produced the handmade paste paper for all the bindings in the War Poets series.  A road trip was planned, to visit Neil and to introduce him to Victoria, and in doing so, launch their collaboration on this exciting project.

Kate Grimwade, Production Director

 

It was fascinating to visit Neil’s studio and to see at first hand his work in progress on the Wilfred Owen engravings. Neil works using a ‘reduction’ method, creating multi-layered images and building up the colours by printing from the block at each stage.

Detail from Wilfred Owen engravings by Neil Bousfield

Detail from ‘Spring Offensive’

 

Detail from Wilfred Owen engravings by Neil Bousfield

Detail from ‘The Sentry’

Here is Neil at work, balancing the block for The Sentry on a leather cushion.

Neil Bousfield working on his engravings for the Folio limited edition of Wilfred Owen

… and here are Neil’s beautiful dogs, which he often features in his work.

Neil Bousfield's dogs

After a delicious lunch, we hit the road, to introduce Neil to Victoria.  A very enjoyable afternoon was spent in Victoria’s beautiful studio, considering the paste-paper colourways and techniques that would harmonise with Neil’s illustrations. The binding design for the Wilfred Owen paste papers is a direct result of conversations and preferences expressed at this meeting, and Victoria’s response to the depth of imagery evident in the print for Anthem for Doomed Youth which Neil brought along with him that day.

Neil Bousfield and Victoria Hall meeting

'Anthem for Doomed Youth' engraving by Neil Bousfield

‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’

 

I was fascinated to find out more about the extraordinarily labour-intensive work involved in creating paste paper. Every sheet of paper is coloured and patterned individually by hand. The amount of tooling varies but each sheet has at least ten metres of freehand tooling with the intention that the marks of all five tools used for this design are evident on each book. The freehand, random angled tooled lines in the Wilfred Owen paste papers are intended to be suggestive of bomb trails, flack and military conflict.

Finally, here are Neil’s finished prints in the Folio offices, before they were sent off to press…

Finished proofs of Neil Bousfield's engravings at the Folio offices

…and finished paste-paper sheets, being pressed before they are sent off to the binder.

Paste paper sheets for the binding of Wilfred Owen

Paste paper sheets being pressed before being sent to the printer

 

This blog is by Kate Grimwade, Production Director at The Folio Society.

View this limited edition of Wilfred Owen: Selected Poems.

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