Osmond the Owl Boy is a new illustrated book by local artist, illustrator and author Charlie Buchanan.
The book is set in a fairytale Sark and follows the journey of a little boy named Osmond who falls from the sky and goes on to discover he is descended from owls.
Charlie began work on the book a decade ago whilst living in Spain. The story was initially inspired by Mervyn Peake’s ‘Mr Pye’ and the illustrative tradition Peake created around the beautiful island of Sark. Charlie says,
“I remember watching the series with Derek Jacobi as a child and being fascinated by the idea of a person growing wings. I have the image in my mind of Mr Pye at La Coupee, it was very evocative.”
In recent years the enchantment of the Sark Folk Festival inspired Charlie to develop the story and images. She says, “The summer light in Sark is very magical. The island has a fairytale quality about it that appeals to me. Walking back from the festival in the fading light, one feels one is being watched by fairies.”
Charlie has worked with her husband Magnus once again, this time to reword the story. The pair regularly collaborates on creative projects after the success of their book The Soul of the Sea, an epic ballad reworking of Victor Hugo’s Toilers of the Sea published in 2013. Charlie says, “Our islands are a real inspiration for both Magnus and I. I have a particular interest in fairytales and the folklore of the Bailiwick is rich and compelling.” Local artist and graphic designer James Colmer has designed the book, taking inspiration from Charlie’s passion for the early photographic image. James has created an enchantingly vintage look for the book. Charlie says, “I enjoy the collaborative element of the creative process. I am lucky to have such great people to work with.”
The new book and a selection of its original ink and watercolour illustrations are exhibited at the Gatehouse Gallery, Elizabeth College until April 26th along with a collection of other work by Charlie and her fellow Art teachers at the College, Adam Stephens and Sharka Lee. Charlie originally trained as a fine artist at Falmouth University College but has found herself drawn to illustration since becoming interested in the folklore of the Basque Country whilst living in Northern Spain. Her work is narrative driven but tends to be large in scale and each piece can stand alone. She says, “I realized a few years ago that illustrated books are a great love of mine. I collect them and there is nothing more magical than opening a book and getting lost in the words and pictures just as a child would.”
Charlie is now working on a novel based in 1920’s Paris as well as working towards a new illustrated book with her husband Magnus and a series of images based on her favourite novel, The Book of Ebenezer Le Page. The paperback and limited hardback edition of Osmond the Owl Boy is published with the support of the Guernsey Arts Commission and is available to buy in local bookshops, at arts events throughout the summer and through Charlie’s website charliebuchanan.com.