Vision of England ... Suffolk

In a previous post I mentioned the artist Rowland Suddaby. While looking for information about him on the web I came across a book about Suffolk that he had illustrated, it was for sale for a few pounds from a second-hand book dealer ... so I bought it. 

 Suffolk by Olive Cook, in the Vision of England series, published 1948

"Vision of England - A new series of personal books on the English Scene" was the conception of Clough and Amabel Williams-Ellis. You may have heard of Clough Williams-Ellis as the creator of the architectural fantasy village of Portmeirion in Wales, he also backed the establishment of the National Parks and was a founder member of the Council for the protection of Rural England ... and Wales. His wife Amabel (née Strachey) was a writer particularly interested in folk-lore and legends.

The team of people who worked on the publication

The book jacket was designed by Kenneth Rowntree, an artist and designer with close association with the Bardfield artists. Before the Vision of Britain series, Rowntree had been part of the government sponsored project Recording Britain 1940-43, involving more than 60 artists recording Britain ... threatened by the destruction of war.

The layout and typography of the series was by Peter Ray FSIA (Fellow of the Society Industrial Artists). I've found mention of a couple of logo designs but not much else, I'd like to find out more about him.

The black and white photographs at the back of the book were selected by Sarah Clutton ... sadly I haven't been able to find out more about her work as a picture editor.

Olive Cook was selected to write the portrait of Suffolk, she stepped down from her job producing publications at the National Gallery in order to concentrate on writing this, her personal view of Suffolk just after WWII. Suffolk Punch horses where still a common sight working in the fields, fishing fleets were busy in the small ports and cars were rarely encountered along the narrow lanes. Times have changed! But a lot remains the same ... I'll enjoy comparing Olive Cook's descriptions with my own explorations of Suffolk.

Rowland Suddaby, who had moved to Suffolk with his family, was commissioned to do the illustrations ... energetic black line drawings and also a number of full page colour illustrations.

 The Frontispiece: Cornfields and the River Stour, Sudbury by Rowland Suddaby

It's interesting to take a closer look at the coloured illustrations. The artwork would have been drawn as colour separated artwork ... meaning the artist had to draw a separate piece of artwork for each colour that was to be printed. Where colours overlap they create different colours ... it's skilled work.

Quay on the Deben, Woodbridge (detail)

The detail of one of the illustration above show the overlapping colours. The different pale, medium, dark shades of each colour would have been created with transfer sheets of dot tints ... the artwork for each printed colour would have been created in black and marked-up to tell the printer which colour to print each layer. This was the technique used by comic book artists, and which inspired 1960s Pop Artists like Roy Lichtenstein.

The book was printed in Suffolk at W S Cowell Ltd of Ipswich


  1. Really interesting book, what a good find.

    1. Thanks Su, it's a fascinating read, especially because I'm familiar with most pf the places she describes.

  2. Celia, this post is so interesting, perhaps a bit because I was born in 1945, so am about the same age as the work you've researched so well. You continue to add to my appreciation of printmaking, drawing, publishing, and...beautiful places to be found in Suffolk. xo

  3. I used to work as a colour separator with Hallmark Cards, about a hundred years ago. It was interesting work, starting with checking the negatives and matching up the poistives.

    Your book looks very interesting.

  4. Always good to find another blogger from Suffolk. That book takes me back to my time working in Libraries in the 1970's - one of the "Local Collection " books that were in and out of the library all the time.


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