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A Study visit year

This is a post from the weareoca.com archive. Information contained within it may now be out of date.
imageWe have just reviewed a year of study visits at OCA, to see what worked and to get an idea of improvements we could make. The good news is that they have been a great success, with many students contacting OCA after the event to give positive feedback. We aim to provide a spread of visits, across the subject areas, and have run a huge range of events during the academic year. So far this year we have run 66 study visits, attracting nearly 700 students to them. They have been in locations from Edinburgh to Bristol, and have attracted an average of 15 students per visit. The best thing about the visits is that we are able to provide them free to students, even covering the cost of exhibition entry tickets. Often the visits have included curator led tours and talks as well as the expertise of our OCA tutors who accompany you around. I know that students really value the opportunity to meet other students, as well as the chance to meet OCA tutors face to face.
We are conscious of the need to provide a balance of visits across the different subjects. The reality is that most of the visual arts study visits are useful for any or all students from all of the visual arts specialist areas. An art exhibition may be just as helpful to an art, textiles, illustration or photography student, for instance. However, we know that this means non visual arts students may feel left out and we will be trying to find suitable alternative forms of study visit in the new academic year. We have already run a few creative writing visits, such as a visit to Dickens’ London and Jane Austen’s home. Any further ideas are welcome! One thing to be aware of is that it is inevitable that the best opportunities tend to be in large centres of population, usually cities. Arranging study visits in remote locations generally doesn’t work because we don’t get enough students taking up the offer of places on them. Feedback in comments on visits is welcome, and will help us plan for next year. If you click on the tab at the top of Weareoca.com you will find a list of Future Study Visits, giving you an opportunity to book onto them early and reserve a place. There are already a range of visual arts visits scheduled for the Autumn.
Finally, in case you have yet to give a study visit a go, take a look at the recent feedback from a happy OCA student on a study visit experience:
‘I would like to thank you for the most wonderful study day at the Tate Liverpool June 9th 2013 to learn about and see the work of Chagall. These study days are so important, not only for gaining knowledge on the artist, seeing their work, hearing what tutors think of the art we are seeing, but what we are contributing ourselves, allowing our own thoughts and views on the work to be heard, it is also enabling us to look more closely at how artists work.
I also feel we fulfil one of our course criteria: Context, we can reflect on what we have seen, it also helps with our research and more importantly our critical thinking, we hear the views of our peers and what they think, so very enlightening indeed.
I also feel it is so important to make an effort to get to these very important study days to be able to feel part of a group, to meet new friends and see some of our tutors from OCA, they do a sterling job, they keep us interested and engaged, helping us feel we are not alone out there.’ (OCA student Linda Stokes)

Posted by author: Jane Parry
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13 thoughts on “A Study visit year

  • I’ve certainly valued the Study Visits. They’ve helped me to immerse myself more in the study of photography (in my case) and in fact have given me the enthusiasm to go on my own to Exhibitions, join informally with other students and also to go to Exhibitions of other media. It’s been good as well to see how the scope has expanded since I’ve been an OCA student.
    I particularly enjoyed the talk with Tom Hunter and would definitely like more of such events.

  • I too have enjoyed the Study Visits I have been able to go to this year unforunately I only managed four but of these my favourite and the one I found most useful to me was to the Fashion and Textile Museum to see the work of Kaffe Fassett and Zandra Rhodes. It was well organised by Sarah and Pat who guided us in discussion with them and our fellow students after we had been taken through the artists work by two curators. Having said that the work in the Brunei Gallery was stunning and the African prints and the curators talk very interesting. In fact all pretty good days! Thank you.

  • I think that these study visits are a really good idea and would attend if I was not some 6000miles away as I am sure other students would too. I read the reviews and follow some of the artists mentioned and so make use of the visits too.
    I would however, out of pure curiosity, be interested in know how many different students attended and what proportion this is of the student body.

  • Attended a number of study visits although have limited them to my own study area of photography. Enjoyed them all and found the input from the accompanying tutors and fellow students to be the most valuable element. What I have found is that the desire to be seen as maximising the ‘value’ of the visit leads, for me, a sense of overload so I reach the point that I have little or no time to digest what I have just seen and heard before I am faced with another set of images. The Derby Forum visit was an example where by lunch time I had reached saturation point and simply had to walk away so that I could make sense of what I had seen up to that point.
    Could I also suggest that the opportunity to chat with fellow students and staff is left less to chance and that efforts are made to find a venue where we are not in competition with the general public for space and that the arrangements maximise the chances of genuine exchange of ideas and experience.
    I look forward to future visits as I believe that they are a key element in achieving understanding and insight. For distance learning students there is a very real risk of ploughing a lonely furrow and we all need at some point contact with others to offer us the best chance of a fully rounded view.

    • I understand your frustration about discussions in public spaces but in many places (Open Eye in Liverpool for example) don’t have an available space and finding one involves time, money etc and ‘the Starbucks around the corner’ makes the study visit that much more feasible.

      • If I may say so that is a cop out. It depends on how important the discussions are seen to be as to how much effort and time is put in to them. It is difficult to believe that there is not somewhere for example in Liverpool close to the ‘Open Eye’ exhibition that could accommodate approx. 20 people particularly if they were going to purchase some refreshments. Have we thought of Arts Cinemas who usually have facilities; Galleries that may offer similar facilities or if feasible somewhere like Waterstones who I am sure would be delighted to push a few tables together (think of the opportunity to put up a special display of relevant printed material).
        Perhaps the answer lies in recruiting one of the study participants who knows the area well to act as a ‘seeker’. As the students are paying for their own refreshments the costs may be minimal.

        • The study visit to look13 we did stop for a coffee and discussion after one of the exhibitions at a suitable place to sit all of us. It proved an interesting time to chat and reflect with the other students. Time is always short on the visits though as travel necessitates a mid morning start. I was lucky that because of the distance I stayed over and so could revisit exhibitions and consider them again in respect to comments made by other students.

  • I’ve really got a lot out of most of them too, its great to get to meet up with tutors and fellow students. I don’t mind the multiple location study visits as left to my own devices I’ll often do at least 3 exhibitions in one day:-) I particularly like to hear the views of experts on the work I’m seeing whether the expert is a tutor, an external expert or even a fellow student … I don’t mind which! However I will admit I get quite fed up when there is artist/photographer bashing going on and I must admit to having avoided a few of the visits as I’ve anticipated that happening. But to be fair problems of that nature have improved so much around here since the study visits started though.
    So much appreciated OCA. Thanks.

  • Unfortunately, have not been able to partake in any upto date due to distance issues. I’m sure many students would be glad of some study visits in Europe too. The Biennale in Venice, the Documenta or some interesting exhibitions in Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Berlin or Munich.
    For students from abroad it might be feasible to combine a weeks Summer workshop with a few study visits thrown in. This total immersion could make a flight to London worthwhile.
    I enjoy reading the writeups about the study visits and would appreciate a detailed tutor report for the benefit of those unable to join in.
    But thank you for organising these visits as they surely must be enriching to be able to discuss the exhibitions with ones fellow-students and tutors.

  • I have been on two study visits over the last 3 years. They were both very informative not only because of the guided visit itself with the OCA tutor, but also because connections could be made with other OCA students which have proved long standing, years now after the visit itself. This has put me in touch with fellow students which has helped my studying enormously. The reason I have not been on more visits is that travel can prove quite pricy if the travel arrangements are not made well in advance . So I would ask the OCA if the dates of the visits could not be made available at least 3 months in advance. Also: How about a visit to the Tate St Ives?

    • I’d second this. Dates for visits are often announced very close to the event making it difficult to get the cheapest travel and also details of the event are often emailed out very late (ie look/13)

      • Thanks Dave and Laticia
        We are conscious that the cost of travel to study visits can be an issue and for this reason we do seek to give as much notice as possible and spread visits geographically. I can’t realistically promise that we can give three months notice. To do so would mean turning down promising opportunities for visits which we only become aware of at short notice. However I can assure you that we aim to give the maximum notice (and I would accept that look/13 was problematic in this respect, but there are very particular reasons for this).

  • As a tutor who has run several study visits in Edinburgh I am surprised and delighted that there have been such a range of students. By no means is it the same group every time, although many make a welcome reappearance. Students from as far afield as Southampton, Yorkshire and the Hebrides have travelled to Edinburgh to attend study trips. I’ve noticed that students are often hesitant to criticise the work on show. Once someone plucks up the courage to do so the discussion can get very interesting.

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