A transfer of emphasis in funding from the OCA to OCASA has presented the opportunity for student initiatives to form and organise workshops of their choosing. I wanted to share my experience of this year’s OCASA funded workshop with students from the South West Initiative, in the hope that other students reading this will be encouraged to utilise this funding and setup their own groups. If students reading this have already setup regional groups, please do post your experiences to raise awareness.
Anna Goodchild is a Level 3 Photography student who has worked tirelessly in coordinating the SW Initiative; finding venues to host the days, writing newsletters to fellow students and asking tutors from the OCA to lead the events. I was invited to Plymouth, where a space had been prepared with more than enough room for group discussions and presentations of creative work. The preparation for the workshop required the choosing of a topic, that would engage students across disciplines and at various levels of study. I wanted to explore with students approaches to finding and developing a subject for a body of work, this could be at the end of a level 1 unit or for a much larger body of work at level 3.
The workshop began with a presentation of my work in the morning. I decided to take a portfolio with me that contained work in progress, rather than a slide show of finished pieces. For me it was about encouraging students to talk critically about my work and not being afraid to say what they thought. I can remember numerous times in my own art school education, when a very static presentation was given by an established artist and a palpable sense of constriction when asked to respond. So, breaking down this barrier felt like a great way to start. The rest of the day opened up many conversations around each of the students work that they brought in.
One of the most exciting aspects for me was seeing the group discuss critically and openly about each other’s work and across a variety of disciplines. I was able to step back slightly and act as a facilitator, chipping into the conversation when needed. It was really heartening to see even the more tentative students at the beginning of the day engaging with the group, adding constructive comments on their peer’s work. There are many challenges for students to overcome through distance learning; engaging with other likeminded students to create your own peer network has to be one of the trickiest. I believe that if students can find the time, the use of OCASA funded workshops has to be a tangible benefit to a student’s learning across all programmes.
I asked Anna Goodchild to respond to this question for the blog post: How do you feel the OCASA workshops have benefited your own studies at the OCA?
At the cross-curricular workshops I organised, I wanted to introduce a forum which was not competitive but which encouraged students in various arts-centred pathways to engage with super-talented tutors who are artists in their own right, as well as with emerging artists / fellow students who, through an appreciation of one another’s work, encourage, talk about and show expressions of different contemporary voices. Very often, I have sat in these meetings feeling supremely excited and privileged at being in the company of so much art.
How has it affected my work? It has principally given me the confidence to take my work into different spheres: virtual and physical 3D model making; using textiles with my images; I have read relevant texts and articles which I would not have come across being in just my own pathway; just freeing myself to try to express what I want to convey through using my photography differently.
In our creative writing meeting, we were given superb sheets to guide our self-evaluation which comes at the end of our assignments irrespective of subject area, and that too affected how I present my work.
In the bookmaking workshop, students learned how to make a variety of books that they can use to present their work.
I have made friendships and I get together between meetings, with students who live nearby, not only photography students, to discuss our work and how to take it forward, and possible solutions to problems which have arisen. I am convinced that it is because we are not competing with one another, that we can take the criticism and absorb different points of view.
It has been a lot of work and mostly administrative, but, given that tutors have agreed to lead again in the 2018 schedule and that students have started to sign up for the meetings, it must mean that what the programme offers is valued by students and tutors alike.
As part of the South West Initiative, Anna has organised an exhibition for students of the SW group and tutors who have been involved in the workshops, titled “Work-in-Progress” at The Old Brick Workshop near Wellington, from the 20 – 26 November 2017.
Images: 1, Doug Burton, ‘matter-path-cast’ work in progress.
2. Group discussion of student’s level 1 printmaking work.
Photos: Doug Burton