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Emma Powell - The Open College of the Arts

To find out more details about the transfer to The Open University see A New Chapter for OCA.

Emma Powell

Dr Emma Powell – she/they

I am a Graphic Design programme tutor at OCA. I have a specialist interest in illustration, bookmaking, general printmaking, letterpress, screen printing, paper crafts, experimental image making, experimental type/lettering and all projects embracing ethics, diversity and sustainable design.

I am particularly interested in encouraging an experimental and visual risk-taking approach to the development of students’ visual practice. I strongly believe that the journey is as important as the final piece.

I have taught art and design at HE level for over 30 years and have assessed thousands of pieces of student work.

I have a PhD in Sustainable Design (2009) that investigated the use of rejectamenta (“things thrown away” – Webster’s 1828 Dictionary) by selected contemporary artists and designers. The intent of the PhD research was to challenge preconceptions about the use of waste materials. It shows that items that initially hold negative value can be transformed, through the creative process, to objects that have a positive aesthetic value. I love using rejectamenta as an inspiration for my own visual work.

I am the co-founder and co-curator of we love your books. This is a collaborative venture which curated fourteen experimental book exhibitions from 2005–2018. In these themed exhibitions we showcased inventive book structures, created by book artists and students, from around the World. Information about the exhibitions can be found here.

My current visual work is underpinned by my PhD research and I apply the principles of sustainable design to as many aspects of my practice as I can. I am particularly interested in greener methods of printmaking and image-making. I love to combine different processes in my book-works and prints and I am drawn to the Japanese concept of wabi sabi (erosion/accretion), colour, circles, text and texture. Sometimes my work can be purely aesthetic but often it communicates a message and/or tackles difficult subject matter.

When I am not working for OCA I can be found on the beach, in my printmaking studio, in the greenhouse or on the back of a tandem cycling around Yorkshire.



You can also follow me on Instagram:@dremmapowell


emma powell