Sarah-Jane Field | The Open College of the Arts | OCA Showcase
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Sarah-Jane Field

BA (Hons) Creative Arts - Photography and Moving Image

Sarah-Jane Field

In the beginning, I was an actor.

I’ve always loved being creative, so while being a stay at home mum and then following a divorce, I took on a short a few photography courses, which were primarily technical. I learnt about exposure, ISO and how to use editing software, but I sensed there was much more to discover.

I had no intention of studying for a degree back then, I thought I’d just go one day at a time and see where I ended up. However, I came across OCA and I soon realised that photography and moving image could be used to express myself in ways I had not known before.

When I began my course in 2014, I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to get out of studying a degree with the OCA, but after studying for a little while I began to find the confidence to experiment.

Before I started studying, I had, what felt like, a crazy fantasy about having a framed picture in a gallery one day. Now, I’ve not even finished the degree and I have exhibited my work in several galleries and am currently working towards a group show organised by Pic London who support early-career artists.

I started off exploring Photography, Level 1, unit 1 and I loved it. It revolutionised my expectations and I began to see all sorts of possibilities which I hadn’t considered; including finding ways to combine my previous experience as an actor with what I was learning. This was further supported when I learned about other artists and art movements in the Understanding Visual Culture unit.

A little way into Level 2, unit 1, Self & Other, I was encouraged to experiment with Moving Image. This helped to break down any preconceived ideas that may have been holding me back. Along the way, I have become fascinated with the way technology is changing how we interact with advertising, television and other media; how we are bombarded by flickering pixels most of the time, even when we may not be aware. Most of my work explores the costs as well as the benefits of the digital revolution.

Now as a single mother with 3 children, alongside looking after my children and studying with OCA, I work part-time as a photographer mainly doing corporate headshots and family portraits. I’m still developing practically and academically.

My work is has become very experimental. Having access to relevant theories and resources is incredibly beneficial to me, as it encourages me to take risks and evaluate my work without having to rely on social media for validation. Social media is not always the best place to seek opinion when you’re trying things out, but I’ve found that my tutors, as an academic professional, are. I have also met a group of supportive fellow students.

Studying with the OCA has expanded my horizons and kept me sane as my passion for learning and making visual art has developed. It has been extraordinarily rewarding, and I encourage anyone to do so too.