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.
Here is Neil at work, balancing the block for The Sentry on a leather cushion.
… and here are Neil’s beautiful dogs, which he often features in his work.
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.
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…
…and finished paste-paper sheets, being pressed before they are sent off to the binder.
This blog is by Kate Grimwade, Production Director at The Folio Society.