The 2018 MA Textiles summer show at the Royal College of Art was a heady mix of product, experimentation and conceptual thinking. Having curated the show I took the opportunity to invite OCA students to view the work. The aim was to discuss the diversity in order to question the definition of the term ‘textiles’. 15 OCA students attended on a sunny summer Sunday to explore the galleries before meeting for a very lively discussion.
When the OCA tutor’s twins came down with chicken pox, a planned study visit to Glasgow International looked to be inevitably cancelled as cover at short notice was difficult to arrange. The visit went ahead however, with the 4 OCA students from different disciplines meeting up independently.
At the end of April twelve students from seven different countries and two OCA bodies met in Copenhagen for a weekend to look at art and make connections.
The New Music Collective met at Iklectik in London on 17 March, for a study day based on collaboration. A month before the event, the students were asked to work in pairs to produce new work to be presented on the day. Each student had to take part in the project both as a performer and composer, but they were able to choose how whether to write together or separately.
Our practical session was centred on ideas generation and how to generate multiple visual experiments from a single starting point. Taking a crumpled piece of A4 paper as our subject, we first drew its form, then experimented with scale and composition.
I began the morning asking students what they thought drawing could be beyond the traditional skills they might have learnt. Some keywords emerged that acted as a guide for the exercises, including drawing as invention, play, process, action, memory, language, non-art, materials and generative.
This study visit brought together three very different gallery spaces, each with their own structure and agenda and a variety of work from emerging and established artists. There is value in exploring the many ways that artwork is seen, we can become more aware of the journeys that artists take and the way a practice can develop through public presentation of work.
Lunch and further lively discussions were held in the café before we moved on to Princes Quay and the photographs of the HIP International Photography festival.
It was to my great delight that the Study Visit to see Nicola Tyson’s show titled Beyond the Trace at The Drawing Room in London was filled to capacity and with a couple of extra students waiting in the wings we had a great few hours interrogating and discussing the works on show, all of which held the common ground of being works on paper.
The exhibition as a whole enabled us to see a range of work from the strongly contrasting lino cuts to the super fine cobwebbby weave of some of the lithograph work which had been even further smoothed over and refined with sandpaper and crayon.
In late July, OCA music students from across the UK and Europe met up at the MAC Birmingham for a day of music making and discussion with music tutor Chris Lawry and saxophonist and publisher Keri Degg. The day was focussed on writing for saxophone with a particular emphasis on composing music for educational and examination purposes. Students got to hear their compositions workshopped and received feedback and advice from tutor and performers, as well as bound scores and recordings to take away for further study.
On a warm July morning, twenty one musicians descended on Harlaxton manor for five days of flute playing and composing at the annual rarescale summer school. An eclectic bunch, the flautists ranged from talented amateurs to music college graduates embarking on performing careers, and the composition group consisted of undergraduate music students and early career composers.