'Apply your creativity in different ways' - printmaker Neil Bousfield on his work

Neil Bousfield drawing at Happisburgh. Picture: Clair Randell

Neil Bousfield drawing at Happisburgh. - Credit: Clair Randell

Each week I speak to a Norwich local making an impact on the arts in our city. This week, NUA tutor and printmaker, Neil Bousfield.

1. How would you best describe your role within the arts community and your work?

I’m an artist, printmaker, engraver, researcher, and part time illustration tutor at Norwich University of the Arts. I’m interested in the notion of place and what gives places a particular sense of identity and narrative.

I’m interested in how experience, narrative, archaeology and human geography work together to allow us to attach ourselves to places to create a sense of belonging and to make home.

This quiet coast from Walcott down to Winterton-on-sea has a lot to say to the rest of the world. Much of the work I make seeks to understand how place and home is made and what this means when considering loss, climate change and sea level rise.

Printmaker Neil Bousfield in his home studio. Picture: Clair Randell

Printmaker Neil Bousfield in his home studio. - Credit: Clair Randell

2. What do you love so much about the Norwich art scene?

I’ve been lucky enough to help students engage with printmaking and been particularly pleased
when I see former students becoming involved in the Norwich Print Fair, which I’ve always enjoyed taking part in.

It’s a good opportunity to see what other creative people are making and doing and spend time
talking about ideas and the work we make.

Marsh Lands. Illustration work by Neil Bousfield. On display at NUA's East Gallery as part of their

Marsh Lands. Illustration work by Neil Bousfield. - Credit: Neil Bousfield

3. How did you get where you are in your career? 

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I completed a BA honours course in Animation at West Surrey College of Art and Design and then spent some years working as a freelance animator making TV titles.

I enjoyed making things: furniture, prints, paintings, sculptures, focusing on wood and lino cuts.

I returned to university to do an MSc in Graphical Computing Technologies. I then went on to work in the games industry as a commercial artist making 3D models for PlayStation games.

However, I enjoyed the physicality of materials and in particular the process of lino cut and wood cut which allowed a nice crossover between physically making something and being able to address ideas, content and stories within the visual aspect of the work. This led me to complete an MA in Multidisciplinary Printmaking where I started to experiment with engraving.

I found that I enjoyed teaching and that allowed me to think about my work in different ways.
I continued to develop my engraving practice and focused my ideas upon the coast where I created a home.

Dorothy walking, 2021 print by Neil Bousfield. Picture: Neil Bousfield

Dorothy walking, 2021 print by Neil Bousfield. - Credit: Neil Bousfield

4. What advice would you give to aspiring creatives?

If this is what you like to do then you must make time to do it and do it better again and again. Never give up despite the set-backs, the lack of interest, and at times even the indifference of others.

Continue to make things, reflect, analyse, be critical and look for the best things to take forward.

Be flexible and nimble when it comes to making money and a living, be open to applying your creativity in different ways, but always make your own work. Try to show it where you can and hopefully people will start to notice what you do.

5. What does an average weekday look like for you?

Once I have finished building my new studio, I will be working on my next big project - focusing on the sea defences between Happisburgh and Winterton-on-Sea, producing engravings from
drawings and research material which I am in the process of gathering.

I tend to treat my art practice like a job, so I’ll be in my studio from 9-5, printing, making drawings and engravings.

6. Where is your favourite spot in Norwich?

Along the river which runs by the art college, but I’m happiest standing on the sand dunes looking at the divide between the land and the sea and wondering what will come next and what I should do about it in terms of my work.

7. Can you name one East Anglian creative whose work you admire?

Geoffrey Wales, wood engraver and teacher, who in 1953, took up a post as a lecturer at Norwich School of Art.

He made illustrations for the Golden Cockrel Press, the Folio Society and the Kynoch Press. His
wood engravings, printed by hand in small editions, are held in collections such as the V&A
Museum.

He made drawings at Happisburgh and taught on the graphics course at Norwich
School of Art - which the illustration course I tutor on was developed from.

For more, follow...
www.neilbousfield.com
@neilbousfield on Instagram