Jane Cradock-Watson is the Course Leader for BA & MA Illustration at UCA Farnham. Jane worked successfully as an illustrator since graduating in 1981. Since then she has also gained a Masters degree in Book Arts from Camberwell College of Art.
During her time as a freelance Illustrator Jane has worked on commissions from a wide range of clients in the areas of editorial illustration, packaging design, publishing, TV and advertising. Her specialist fields include packaging, children’s and adult nonfiction and educational publishing. Since becoming a full time academic, Jane has continued to develop her practice as a successful book artist, with books in major collections in the UK and internationally.
Her artists books are sensual. They can be experienced through sense of touch. Their subject matter is primarily focused on the conceptualisation of the garden and the landscape. Nature is so evocative of the human condition. The book in its materiality and physical properties are integral to its reading, providing the reader with an intimate and sensory experience with nature, which engages them in reflecting on the natural world. Jane's books combine the use of photography, printmaking and illustration, with specific focus on using sympathetic materials and physical formats to suit the concept of the book.
The Haptic Book
Much critical evaluation of artist's books has been based on the review models of art and literature, yet the artist's book is more often than not a physical object - an artefact. Its physical presence and materiality is integral to its reading which invites a haptic reading and evaluation of the book.
Haptic communication is communicating by touch. Touch is often intimate, like the reading of a book, and can be used as an act of domination or friendship, depending on the context. Young children and old people use more touching than people in the middle years. We seem to lose our ability to interpret the world by touch as our ability to read the world visually begins to dominate, by learning to read, watching television and using computer technology. Yet we touch materials everyday, but rarely consider that we are unconsciously evaluating the world by touch.
Conservators and curators of collections of material culture evaluate artefacts by their materiality, the way the object is made, its material and handling. The book is hand held, we can lift it, it can feel springy on opening, solid or fragile on closing. The shape of the book, its weight, the surface texture of its pages, the way it reacts and moves on opening unconsciously aid our sensory understanding of its contents.
Should we consider critically evaluating an artists book by its tactile qualities and its physical handling in conjunction with its conceptual and visual qualities?