The Painted Page: Book Illustrations by Jacqui Oakley presents what would normally be considered preparatory materials as works of art in their own right. Lining the walls are some of the original paintings and drawings that Oakley created to illustrate such literary works as the Anne of Green Gables series, the Sherlock Holmes series, and Jane Austen’s complete novels. Ultimately, the exhibition provides visitors with a behind-the-scenes view of the graphic design process, especially since the artworks it contains have never before been shown to the public.
As an illustrator, Oakley’s job is to translate words into images. At the AGH Design Annex, this is emphasized by the fact that her work is exhibited alongside the books themselves. What’s even better is that the re-released Anne of Green Gables series with Oakley’s cover art is not just for show; the individual books are available to purchase for $12 each. Visitors are, therefore, able to take a piece of the art home with them.
“As you can imagine, I got pretty good at painting red hair throughout this project.” –Jacqui Oakley on illustrating Anne of Green Gables
Although the exhibition is perfect for booklovers, visitors do not need to be familiar with the stories to enjoy the artwork. Simply viewing Oakley’s contemporary yet nostalgic images is a rewarding experience, since doing so inevitably leads to thinking about the amount of time, energy, and talent required to create such work.
Jacqui Oakley is a mixed-media artist whose work has been published by The New York Times, Rolling Stone, National Geographic, Penguin Books, and Amazon. Although she was born in Canada and currently lives in Hamilton, she spent her formative years watching BBC reruns and anime in Bahrain, England, Zambia, and Libya. In addition to working as an illustrator, she teaches in the illustration program at OCAD University in Toronto.
The Painted Page: Book Illustrations by Jacqui Oakley is on view at the AGH Design Annex until August 29, 2015.
-Kathleen Fric, Marketing & Curatorial Intern