The nearest faraway place

“A few days ago, OCA student Yiannitsa Stevens Cegarra put the final touch to a collaborative project that a group of photography students started almost 3 years ago. The result of this collaboration, a handmade book entitled The Nearest Faraway Place. It is the product of the joint efforts of 35 OCA students living all around the globe – China, Japan, Australia, New-Zealand, USA, Russia, Switzerland, Greece, South Africa, Ireland, United Kingdom.

The idea behind our undertaking came from the will to reinforce the link already existing between some of us, users of the OCA photography group on Flickr, and to welcome newcomers to join us. It was a strategy to fight the isolation that sometimes comes with distance learning, and a way to interact with each other in a more direct, tangible fashion.

The brief was simple; each student involved would contribute one picture (a 6×4 print) with an accompanying note, and add the print to a concertina book that would be sent from one student to another, the project growing as it progresses. The picture had to be inspired by the theme ‘The Nearest Faraway Place’. The image could be about real place or an imaginary one, a concept or idea. The only limit was our imagination. The point was to enjoy this opportunity to play and to share something meaningful with other students.

The book started in New York and then was supposed to travel west around the globe, until it ends up at OCA HQ in the UK. But as more and more students decided to join the project, its itinerary and journey became almost epic. We all followed the adventures of our growing concertina with anticipation, fear and joy as it got lost several times in its journey, and miraculously retrieved.

I hope that the project fulfilled its mission. It surely did for me.”

OCA student Stephanie d’Hubert.

The Nearest Faraway Place from Yiann Stevens Cegarra on Vimeo.

“My collaboration in the project was not only to create an image that meant to me The Nearest Faraway Place but also to create the covers for the concertina book.

It was a difficult but not impossible task. The idea, which postdates the start of the project, was to have each student cut out and include, with their contribution, the stamps used by the previous student to send the parcel and pass it on to the next. At the end of the book’s journey the stamps would be used to create the covers. I wanted the covers to have a feel of journeying, similar to those amazing old leather suitcases full of stickers from the places it visited or those well-stamped passport pages.

After receiving the amazing collaboration from 34 students I worked on the covers using thick grey board, slightly larger than the size of the images with accompanying texts. It needed to be sturdy as the book (images only) was a rather thick block. I used a special paper that is almost like fabric, this was ideal to use with regular craft glue and is excellent to print on with a home inkjet printer. I had a couple of ideas for the background image to be printed on to the paper for the covers. For this I sought the advice of my peers via our Flickr group.

The options were: plain manila, contemporary map, or old map. Contemporary map had the most votes so I went on to search for the ideal map that not only spoke to me but that had that sense of where we all are today. The chosen map printed well, unfortunately very little can be seen when all the stamps were place on it, but it compliments well the stamps and it does give a sense of places, seas and journeys made.”

OCA Student Yiannitsa Stevens Cegarra.

There is a long thread of Flickr following all our discussions following the project and its completion which students can read here.

Tanya Ahmed, Stephanie d’Hubert, Selina Wallace, Barry Chandler, Dewald Botha, Susanne Tempus, Mark Racle, Stanislas Abramchouk, Mirjam Bollag Dondi, Madalina Androne, Doug Bell, Rob Brisco, Brian Cooney, Eileen Rafferty, Anne Giddings, John Umney, Siegfried Ip, Michael Colvin, Carol Street, Peter Mansell, Gilly Walker, Keith Greenough, Dave Whenham, Jan Fairburn, Alet Roux, Richard Brown, Catherine Banks, Stephen Barney, Rachel Wakefield, Simon Chirgwin, Stan Dickinson, Ricard Down, Gesa Helms, Judy Bach, Yiannitsa Stevens Cegarra.

Well done to all of those involved!


  1. Richard Brown 14 April 2016 at 9:10 am

    So pleased to a part of this. Have to admit to being a wee bit emotional when I saw the video. Well done Yiannitsa.

  2. Susanne Tempus 14 April 2016 at 9:12 am

    Wow! Great to see that it made it!

  3. anomiepete 14 April 2016 at 9:22 am

    It was great fun and nicely presented here.

  4. Judy Bach 14 April 2016 at 9:29 am

    I joined the project towards the end so thanks for the chance to be part of a great

    collaboration . Well done Stephanie for organising the project & Yiannitsa for the fabulous

    cover & video.

  5. Vicki M 14 April 2016 at 9:39 am

    It’s great to see the final product! I followed its travels and travails as it went across the globe, sometimes fearing it would never be seen again. Well done everyone who was involved. I wasn’t, I was just a bystander! But having seen it develop, I do feel part of it—so Stephanie, you achieved your objective of lessening the distance between us!

  6. jsumb 14 April 2016 at 11:55 am

    Fabulous idea Stephanie, really proud to be a part of it, and well done Yiann for bringing all together in such an elegant work. I wonder what will happen to the Octonauts now!

  7. Catherine 14 April 2016 at 12:16 pm

    It’s so good to see the project complete. Thank you Yiann for that important final touch of those important covers and the great video.

    I very much enjoyed being a part of it all and can still remember the excitement of opening the parcel and then the trepidation of wrapping it up again for its onward journey. I can hardly believe it’s been three years! We certainly had a few worrying moments when it seemed to have gone missing.

    Many thanks again Stephanie for suggesting we join together and create the book and I hope there’ll be a ceremony at OCA to receive it and that ‘opening the box’ will be videoed. (Big hint there!!).

  8. wendymcmurdo 14 April 2016 at 1:38 pm

    Lovely project, Yiann. Really enjoyed reading about this.
    Maybe an Exquisite Corpse project might be next for OCA?
    I remember seeing some of these surrealist experiments in collaborative drawing as a student and have always loved the idea (and the results).

  9. standickinson 14 April 2016 at 2:25 pm

    Fantastic project – well done to everyone involved, especially Stephanie & Yiann, of course.
    (I’m flattered by receiving a ‘credit’ in the article, by the way but, due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, I never actually included an image! Think I may have helped Yiann source some fabric for the cover, so maybe I’ll take it for that!!)
    Most importantly, once again, great idea & beautifully executed.

  10. Dave Whenham 14 April 2016 at 3:53 pm

    Great to see it in its final form. Thanks to everyone involved in the collaboration.

    1. Dewald 15 April 2016 at 4:10 pm

      Second that.

  11. Stephanie Dh. 14 April 2016 at 7:04 pm

    Thanks for featuring our project here, and many thanks to all the participants for their great energy, enthusiasm and resourceful attitude!

    The final object is beautiful Yiann!

    1. Jan 15 April 2016 at 1:54 am

      well done Yiann, and everyone involved. I loved taking part in this unique project, was great fun xx

  12. Jennifer 15 April 2016 at 9:34 am

    This is a lovely outcome of a very interesting project. I was in a sketchbook circle with students on painting, textiles and printmaking courses, and that was brilliant. I had no idea photography students were doing similar things.

  13. smgilmore 15 April 2016 at 9:42 am

    looks like a really great project with a great outcome, well done.

  14. Gareth 15 April 2016 at 10:01 am

    As a number of people have already said, this is a fabulous project and a brilliant outcome. I can’t wait to to the finished work on display in the OCA’s reception. Many thanks to all students involved and in particular to Stephanie and Yiannitsa for the initiation and completion.

  15. Anne 15 April 2016 at 10:37 am

    A great strength of it for me is the openness and inclusivity of the project, with all comers welcomed and encouraged to participate on an open forum. I think we owe a vote of thanks to Stephanie for arranging and organising it all so well and Yiann for bringing it all together so well.

  16. Margaret T 15 April 2016 at 3:10 pm

    What a great way to collaborate! Well done to all

  17. Andrea 18 April 2016 at 3:31 pm

    To echo the previous comments – wonderful project and what a great idea. Well done to all for organising and making it come to fruition.

  18. sonia510727 20 April 2016 at 1:02 pm

    Congratulations! A very interesting Project.

  19. Mark 4 May 2016 at 10:01 am

    Had almost forgotten…. great to see


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.