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Creative Arts, Part 2: How can interdisciplinary ways of working produce new ideas?

In Part 1 of this series, I discussed what interdisciplinarity means to the Creative Arts. As part of our programme of study, we have recently completed a pilot set of group workshops that have explored a range of disciplines and themes. These activities have supported you in your studies, and the feedback I have received will enable us to develop group work into the new Creative Arts space on OCA Learn, the virtual learning environment for the OCA. In Part 2, I will consider how these interdisciplinary workshops will continue to support your studies more broadly and develop your distinct creative voice.

The pilot group workshops have covered a range of disciplines and topics and led by our excellent interdisciplinary Creative Arts Tutor team: 

  • Building skills in Close Reading
  • Mapping the Grid – Drawing and Narrative
  • 2D>3D>Repeat – Generative approaches to making
  • The Cut and Fold – exploring ideas around identity, language and control
  • Arts Research: ‘Doing-Thinking’, supporting your practice towards becoming practice-research 
  • Intuitive Collage – Photocollage
  • Analysing Artwork
  • Global Imaginations – Globalisation – discussion and research 
  • @OCAEarthDay2020 A broad OCA cross-programme Arts and Environment workshop

The workshops have broadly engaged students with different areas of study that might spark an idea or overcome a creative obstacle that needs a more lateral approach. A student recently asked me how much flexibility there was to work across disciplines that might potentially push the boundaries of what is required in that unit. To give an example, you might be studying photography and textiles, experimental approaches in both of these might permeate between and lead you to want to take more radical steps to test the limits of each process. Testing the limits of your creative approach that integrates disciplines to form your distinct language lies at the heart of our expectations for this programme.

The traditional boundaries that lie between design, art, writing, music are breaking down as practitioners move fluidly between disciplines allowing their ideas and creative research to drive their creative output as I showed in Olafur Eliasson’s work in Part 1. I’m interested in the way artists are connecting and collaborating with broader fields of research such as science, politics, medicine etc. to create work that engages with the world. As I’ve mentioned before, Nicolas Bourriaud’s work on Relational Aesthetics helps to define how artists are engaging with the world and why.

“…The role of artworks is no longer to form imaginary and utopian realities, but to actually be ways of living and models of action within the existing real, whatever the scale chosen by the artist.” (2009, 13)

It was clear from the workshops that the ability for you as distance learners to support and engage with each other contributed to your enjoyment and successful outcomes. A student recently commented to me that trying different techniques out, although unrelated, had improved the quality of their work and they enjoyed the feeling of connection within a broader student body. We can sometimes forget how far and wide many of our students are spread across the globe, moving forwards, we endeavour to meet the challenge of connecting students across time zones. As we look to build on this pilot year, I encourage more of you to give these workshops a try and see how they might enhance your studies.


Bourriaud, N. (2002) Relational Aesthetics. Dijon: Les presses du reel. pp 13

Creative Arts Part 1: https://www.oca.ac.uk/weareoca/creative-arts/creative-arts-part-1-what-do-we-mean-by-interdisciplinary/

Image Credit: Creative work taken from workshop Padlets, student work from Emma Maitland, Ed Burke, Gesa Helms, Annette Bruton, Mark Butler, Karen Woodfield

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Posted by author: Doug Burton
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2 thoughts on “Creative Arts, Part 2: How can interdisciplinary ways of working produce new ideas?

  • The Creative Arts route wasn’t available when I first enrolled with OCA but I so wish it had. I’ve seen wonderfully creative work from students who are following this interdisciplinary route.

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