Wilfred Owen: Selected Poems
Illustrated by Neil Bousfield
Introduced by Owen Sheers
Limited to 1,250 hand-numbered copies each signed by Neil Bousfield
A new limited edition published to commemorate the poet’s death in November 1918 and designed to emulate the fine press editions of the early 20th century. In series with Selected Poems Rupert Brooke and Selected Poems Edward Thomas.
Limited to 1,250 hand-numbered copies
Quarter-bound in goatskin with paste-paper sides
Set in Plantin
9 engravings and 8 letterpress vignettes
Paper-covered slipcase blocked in gold on one side and inset with a printed label
Coloured top edge
Signed by the artist, Neil Bousfield
9¾˝ x 7˝
Wilfred Owen 18 March 1893–4 November 1918
Poetry born of experience
About Owen Sheers
Owen Sheers is a Welsh novelist, poet and playwright whose work has often dealt with war and its traumatic fall-out, from verses such as ‘Mametz Wood’, inspired by one of the most brutal battles of the First World War, to The Two Worlds of Charlie F., a drama based on the first-hand testimony of, and performed by, soldiers wounded in Afghanistan.
In his insightful introduction, Sheers brings a writer’s sensibility to bear on Owen’s accelerated maturation as a poet, his influence on later authors and the reasons why his work continues to resonate so powerfully one hundred years on. In a fitting piece of synchronicity, Owen Sheers has recently received the Wilfred Owen Poetry Award for 2018, an honour bestowed in recognition of his own memorable war writings and his determination to give a voice to those who might otherwise remain voiceless.
Hand-crafted paper by Victoria Hall
Victoria Hall’s hand-crafted paste-paper perfectly complements Neil Bousfield’s engravings, the dynamic design responding directly to the parallel lines that appear throughout his prints, evoking stormy skies, violent explosions, trench duckboards and searchlights as well as the rays of the sun.
Preparing the papers is a complex process. After dampening the paper, Victoria applies a stippled soft gold background using a natural sea-sponge, to suggest simultaneously the reflection of light in water-filled shell-holes, the flames produced by incendiary devices and the nostalgic appeal of home fires. After drying and pressing, the papers are thickly coated with a custom-mixed green-grey paste enhanced with graphite to catch the light like gun-metal, then brushed to a fine finish and tooled while wet with five combs of differing sizes, before being dried and pressed for the final time. As every sheet of paper is individually coloured and patterned by hand, each book is unique.
About Neil Bousfield
In a striking series of original engravings, Owen’s texts have been brought vividly to life by printmaker Neil Bousfield. Drawing inspiration from pioneering First World War artists including Christopher Nevinson and Paul Nash, Neil’s unsettling images are by turns explosive and haunting, presenting disconsolate soldiers huddling knee-deep in water to escape the Vorticist shockwaves of incessant shelling, staggering blindly through the greenish light of a gas attack, and shuffling through an apocalyptic landscape, their faces expressionless as they confront sights and situations that are beyond their comprehension. Building on the preoccupation with landscapes as emotional palimpsests which is such a strong feature of his work, narrative elements are overlaid onto schematic diagrams of trench networks from the locations where Owen fought, creating a jarring contrast between the cool objectivity of the maps and the extreme violence that occurred in the places they represent.
To produce the images, Neil created his own blocks, before working on them using the ‘reduction method’, engraving and printing the block with a first colour before repeatedly re-engraving and reprinting it using different colours. The results are stunning – multi-layered images, with an instantly recognisable aesthetic and texture that are as painstakingly crafted as the texts that they accompany.
To complete his scheme, Neil has also engraved eight smaller vignettes of the officer’s equipment familiar to Owen. Appropriately, two of Neil’s engravings for this volume have recently appeared in the 250th Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, an annual event that Wilfred Owen himself regularly attended.
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