The Artist and the Book

Online course

+44 (0)20 7942 2000
Led by Curators from the National Art Library, this course explores tradition and innovation in the arts and crafts of the book: writing, calligraphy and visual text; illumination and illustration; book bindings and formats. Leaning on NAL and V&A collections, it will show how artists have found the book a fertile space for creative expression, from illuminated manuscripts to graphic novels. 

 You can learn from our world-class experts wherever you are, whenever suits you: watch lectures live or view the recording later in your own time. You can experience the full breadth and depth of the V&A's collections with 12 hours of study over 6 weeks. Learn at your own pace: lecture recordings and study materials, lecture notes, copies of the presentations, and additional study materials are available in our secure Microsoft Teams environment for up to 6 weeks after the course ends, so you'll never miss a thing. And finally, join the conversation: share your perspective with your fellow students, and support each other in your further enquiries outside of class time.

course photo
Portrait of Course Leaders Elizabeth James and Dr Catherine Yvard

Course Leaders
Elizabeth James and Dr Catherine Yvard

Elizabeth is Senior Librarian for Collections and Content at the NAL, V&A. She has researched, published and taught on topics in book history, art-historical publishing and artists’ books. Catherine is Collections Curator at the NAL, specialising in late medieval illuminated manuscripts, teaches regularly and has published internationally.

The V&A offers online courses at a very high level and I'm so pleased to be able to take advantage of this; after every session I feel as though I've learned something new from lecturers who are very knowledgeable and passionate about their subjects. Previous V&A Academy Online Course Attendee.

Course overview

This course brings a unique V&A perspective to the history of the book, focusing on the role and achievements of artists, artisans and designers in its material forms, and on its special capacity as a sphere for artistic creativity.

The look of language, its written or printed characters, presented on a surface, influence how text is understood, studied and used. The power of pictures on a page, the ability for letters and words to become pictures, and the way words and images interact will be examined, in relation to how they were originated and physically made. Some book formats beyond the codex will be explored, as well as the craft and art of book bindings and covers.  The ways in which artists have been drawn to the book, and how they responded to its potentials and constraints, is a touchstone of the course. Aspects of the relationship between photography and the book, a key theme for the V&A’s Photography Centre, will be considered. 

The National Art Library is the V&A’s department for the art and design of the book: the course is taught by Library curators, drawing on its rich collections, as well as other V&A experts and guest speakers. 

V&A Academy Online. A learning environment you can trust.

V&A Academy Online courses are built using the latest Microsoft software. Tune in to expert lectures live, or catch up later on demand. Download handouts and presentations. Join the discussion in a secure, closed class environment, wherever you are.

Enrol now

Online course: The Artist and the Book

5 November 2024 - 10 December 2024


Need help enrolling? Talk to the admissions team:

+44 (0)20 7942 2000

Open 10.00 - 13.00, Monday to Sunday (closed 24-26 December)

Related events

Header image: Helen Douglas and Telfer Stokes, Water on the border, c1994.