Day three begins bright and early(ish) with a chilly introduction to tutor Les Monaghan’s commission for Brighton Photo Fringe, the parallel biennial to the Biennial. Its cold but the subject matter demands attention and the steady stream of comments and questions means that we’re outside for longer than expected. Student, Hazel Bingham, noted,
‘It was great to see Les again and hear about his project with the homeless in Brighton. Also for me to see how the outside boards and work was displayed. It is ironic that his work about the homeless is displayed alongside an expensive tourist attraction [the British Airways i360 tower] to which the council contributed and which is loss making.
Opposite Les’s work was more picturesque less thought provoking images.’
A brisk walk to Brighton’s excellent Jubilee Library and our main event of the day, the student crit session. As ever on a distance learning programme, these events are demonstrably beneficial to students and tutors alike. We all love photography, we love looking at it, talking about it and being inspired by it. The open mix of fresh starters, old hands, and practising artists means there’s lots to take away. Time limits have to be enforced as even the most delicate of unrealised ideas provide so much scope for supportive discussion, and those who brought work were showered with comments, critiques, references, ideas and, of course, praise. Level 3 student Hazel said ’I was able to get some really good feedback’. Level 1 student Julia Salisbury said,
‘Sunday’s crit session the most enlightening and productive of all, which was certainly not what I had expected as I thought I disliked group discussions of this kind. It was really inspiring to see the work other people are engaged in and hear them talk about it, especially the Level 3 students. I have started to think that if I keep on plodding through the course, one day I too may produce work of a similar intellectual and artistic standard.’
We, tutors included, are all on a lifelong learning journey. The OCA’s courses are part of the steps on that journey. Think of the tutors, support staff as the guiderails, and stretching the metaphor, maybe these visits where we all get together and share, are the viewpoints at the top of each cliff or castle turret. A place to take stock, look back and reflect, gather strength from each other and prepare for the next ascent.
Julia Salisbury again,
‘But for me the best aspect of the three days was spending time with other OCA students. Meeting so many fellow students (I would estimate around 20–25 attended in total over the three days) has further strengthened my sense of being part of something bigger than just my own studies, which was something I lacked until I started participating in the forums and group hangouts in around June or July this year. I really enjoyed the entire programme OCA tutor Jayne Taylor had arranged for us’
Final word to Hazel, ‘Well organised and really good weekend which has given me lots to think about in my work.’
Featured image: OCA students grilling Les Monaghan at the Brighton Photo Fringe outdoor installation, Brighton seafront – Jayne Taylor