In the time of absence


OCA Level 3 student Sue Gilmore recently closed her exhibition ‘In the time of absence’ This was the culmination of working towards her degree. With only her final assignment to go I asked Sue to comment on her experience of studying with the OCA, her exhibition and her plans for the future.

“I do feel a little bit like I have been studying with OCA forever, so to be so close to the end seems daunting. It has always worked well for me fitting in and around all the other things in life, that’s not to say there haven’t been many challenges and frustrations. I had just started level 3 when my eldest son was killed in a hit and run incident. In many ways I never though I would actually get to this point. It took me some time to start working again, but in many ways my work has since helped to carry me through this time.

That’s just how it is… (4) Charcoal and acrylic medium on canvas board prepared with gesso. 60 x 60 cms
That’s just how it is… (4)
Charcoal and acrylic medium on canvas board prepared with gesso.
60 x 60 cms

I wrote this in the final reflections on completing major project and contextual studies-

‘It is quite hard to describe fully how my practice has developed and to be described as I have done in my artist statement. In many ways it has been a long journey that began way back before I started this course. It has come about, too, at what can only be described as the darkest time in my life.

In the early part of the course where I was already working with willow as my focus, I also needed to be busy, active and engaged – leading to an intuitive and experiential approach- and this took me to working across media. At this time I just wanted to work without reflecting too much. I had many uncertainties through this time relating to the materials I had chosen, the nature of my work going backwards and forwards between 2D and 3D, which I have since considered to perhaps be related to the situation in my life. There were a number of artists that gave me the confidence to continue with embracing of willow in all its forms- Tania Kovats for her broad enquiry around water, Ursula von Rydingsvard for her focus on the Cedar tree and then Eva Hesse for her extensive exploration of her materials, in particular latex.

When I started the ‘Sustaining your Practice’ module I was wishing I had completed all 3 module together and had my exhibition, but I have found it has given me the time and allowed me to refine down the focus of the work selected and develop new works in line with that, to give what I hope is a more conceptually coherent exhibition. The show does not include all the works I sent for assessment.


The organising of the exhibition has at times been frustrating and I have found myself wanting to be part of a cohort of 40 or so, but actually it has meant that I have had to attend to all the aspects of the planning so feel I have at least gained a good all around experience of the process. And now the show is up and running I can relax a bit.

I have to admit to being more than a little apprehensive about the ‘meet the artist’ event and how talking about my work with visitors might go, mostly because of the time much of the work came out of, but I have to say it has been received very positively, including the inclusion of my willow trees! I was pleased too that a number of OCA students were able to attend.



As for my intentions as I go forward-

I shall carry on working with Willow in the way that I have. There have been lots of aspects of my earlier explorations that I intend to re-visit. I have already created a blog-in-waiting called ‘being with willow’, where I intend to continue to record the journey in much the same way I have done for OCA, but without the assignments!

I have joined a local artist network who do organise development days and support emerging artists, along with organising an open studios arts week annually.

I have started to explore the use of moving image, and have been working on developing my skills relating to digital technologies through ‘Ignite’ at Somerset Film, and been involved in a collaborative work there.

There are a number of art competitions I intend to enter.

I want to develop my photographic skills, in particular for the documentation of my ‘black and white’ works where colour cast becomes an issue.

So, plenty to keep me going.”

Trace Drawing.13. Salix Sachalinensis (Sekka) Charcoal dust on paper.
Trace Drawing.13. Salix Sachalinensis (Sekka)
Charcoal dust on paper.

Congratulations Sue on everything you have achieved, you can visit Sue’s various blogs and sites by clicking on the links below.

Sue Gilmore



  1. kath 14 June 2016 at 9:06 am

    beautiful work. congratulations

  2. Catherine 14 June 2016 at 4:06 pm

    Congratulations Sue. Your work looks so interesting and I wouldn’t have thought that charcoal could produce such a delicate drawing as the Sekka.
    Wishing you much success as you continue your artistic journey.

  3. ocatutoraccess 16 June 2016 at 10:11 pm

    Looking forward to your PP outcome and it’s been very interesting to see how you have interpreted your practice in various media with an outlook to how you can convey it an audience.

  4. JulieB 16 June 2016 at 10:19 pm

    Beautiful evocative work, Sue. Hugely well done.

  5. Averil Wootton 17 June 2016 at 11:35 am

    I’m so pleased to see this here, Sue – it’s so good that your work & reflections are reaching a wider audience well beyond Langport!

  6. smgilmore 17 June 2016 at 6:42 pm

    Many thanks for all your kind comments.

  7. Rebecca moore 21 June 2016 at 11:33 pm

    Terrific work every innovative and captivating. Well done


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