Goal of the Project

The Goal of this project is to bring back to life a set of beautiful hand printed and painted illustrations of six classics of English literature produced for Encyclopaedia Britannica’s Film- strip division in the early 1960’s by combining traditional printmaking with modern digital filmmaking.

180 original hand painted woodblock and print illustrations of six classical English Literature works produced in 1962 had been lost for 55 years.  The artwork was the product of a yearlong project; a series of 6 filmstrips, widely disseminated to schools and libraries.

Grendel from the epic poem Beowulf


The filmstrips "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight," "Morte d'Arthur," "Beowulf," "The Nun's Priest Tale," "The Second Shepherd's Play" and "Everyman” were illustrated by the late Bronislaw Bak, formerly on the faculty at Georgia Southern.  With his passing in 1981, the original painted prints and woodblocks were presumed lost until they were recovered in 2016 in a basement in Chicago.

The filmstrips as well as the projectors used to show them have long been discarded, replaced by more modern teaching aids.  And like Hollywood films from that era, any that still exist would have lost the color and vibrancy of the artist’s originals due to the deterioration of the film. The newly found prints and block originals however are in excellent shape!


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Scope of the Project

  Under the direction of the Kennesaw State University's School of Art and Design printmaking area, a replica hand printed limited edition of each block series on specialized paper will be created with each print hand painted to match the original set by the artist.  A selection from this exhibit will be archival mounted and framed to create a traveling exhibit to generate interest and support for the project.

A two-part film

The printmaking process and painting of the prints will be filmed along with interviews of the participants.

Filmed on site at the KSU Printmaking area and the Red Onion Press, the introduction will provide a demonstration of the art of printmaking and background on the artist Bronislaw Bak, along with information on Encyclopaedia Britannica’s filmstrip publications during the 20th Century.

The second part will be a modern film presentation of the six works with music and narrative accompaniment. The narration will enhance the understanding and experience of these works.  An academic expert in English literature will provide background and context to the stories.