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Study event review: OCA North group - The Open College of the Arts
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Study event review: OCA North group

The second meeting of the OCA north group met recently in Newcastle. There were some familiar faces from the inaugural Leeds meeting and plenty of new ones. The meeting began with an open discussion around the function and design of the group, with some different views raised this time than in the previous meeting so perhaps these kinds of groups need to evolve over time as the nature of the group itself evolves. 
We made a conscious decision to slow down the first phase of the meeting after feedback from last time, to give space for conversation to flow and ideas to be pursued. Luckily there was a good spread of disciplines present so whilst discussing both studentship and practice related issues we could benefit from sharing information about each other’s field. Presentation for textiles students, for example, for assessment is quite different than for painters or photographers. We also discussed the benefit of face to face meeting for peer learning and student retention and how the front loading of developing fluency with the various OCA digital protocols and platforms at the beginning of a degree can be daunting.
We then focussed on our practice; starting with a chance to support each other by looking at recent work or discussing ideas in the pipeline. Tutor Emma Drye facilitated the crit using a method that favoured a questioning approach with the goal being to enable the student whose work was being considered to gain insight into their own motivations and ideas. We listened to our peers as they described a variety of approaches, from using found drawings and palettes to inspire stitch, to a situated practice where the artist is also a member of the community audience, to responding to materials and chance through the use of glazes in oil painting and the ethics of appropriation.
More discussion was generated by seeing other people’s work and lots of cross disciplinary connections were made. It was also useful to have a tutor perspective on OCA and hear things from that side.
The day ended with tutor Emma Drye giving a brief talk about her work and how and why she moved from a predominantly painting practice to a situated one.
We just had time for some of us to visit the Laing gallery and spend an hour in the strange and wonderful company of Glenn Brown’s troupe of colourful characters before the gallery closed and we were all homeward bound.
To find out more about the North Group click here.

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Posted by author: Michael Millmore
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