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Study event review: OCA South West - Global perspectives - The Open College of the Arts
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Study event review: OCA South West – Global perspectives

Paignton Library on Sat 11 May 2019

For this May workshop, there were 15 students present from Foundation to Level 3 courses across Creative Arts, Drawing, Painting, Illustration, Textiles and Photography courses. Creative Arts Student, Karen Woodfield, has taken over the organisational reigns of the SW group and I was asked to run a workshop that would touch on subjects relevant to my work at this time, using the second half of the day to discuss techniques for sustaining motivation in creative studies and completing the day with a critical support session.

With such a large multidisciplinary group, I wanted to start the day with a lecture on ‘Global Perspectives in Contemporary Creative Arts’. I’m aware that teaching and learning around a historical context for the arts can have a Western bias that feels out of touch with the much broader globalised discourse that is happening today. I wanted to present students with the critical context for where some of the ideas adopted by artists from around the world are coming from, and how a commonality of critical approach is emerging. A key theorist in this debate is the French curator and critic Nicolas Bourriaud, who I have mentioned in previous blog posts. Both his seminal book, ‘Relational Aesthetics’ and his 2009 curated show at the Tate Triennial titled ‘Altermodern’ set about defining a new paradigm for artists that emphasised a globalised view of the world, transformed through technology, communication, mass-production, automation, industry, population and globalisation.
“…The role of artworks is no longer to form imaginary and utopian realities, but to be ways of living and models of action within the existing real, whatever the scale chosen by the artist.” (2009, 13)
It interests me that the above quotation feels in-tune with many of our students approaches, creatively responding to the real-life situations that we balance with our studies. I asked student Kate Aston some questions on the day:
Kate, were you left with any questions that you feel you needed to discuss after the day?

I was left with plenty of questions, but generally, they are ones that I need to consider for myself:

  • What’s the current “ism” and what will the next one be?
  • How can my work accommodate the idea of an invitation, a contract with the viewer?
  • Does all art have to educate?
  • What does infinity feel like?
  • Can we affect the world through our work and how we work?
  • Do we have an aversion to very financially successful artists, and if so, why?
  • Where does my art go, and should I care?
  • How can I make the time to accommodate Karen’s excellent suggestion of trying out the first assignment from multiple courses?

Did the lecture format prove beneficial, is this something you would like more of either at workshops or online?

I found it very beneficial, it was the chance to concentrate fully and also to see some of the referenced materials. I’d love to see more – either in real time or online or available for streaming.

What was the one thing that you found most beneficial from any part of the workshop?

The way that theory was demonstrated by a suitable range of practitioners from a wide range of creative disciplines. I’m a photography student on a theory unit (Understanding Visual Culture), and it was terrific to see outside the photography box, it really helped me to understand and contextualise my current learning on modernism and postmodernism. I’ve since bought one of the books that you bought along, as it’s so useful.


Bourriaud, N. (2009). Relational aesthetics. Dijon: Les Presses du Reel.
Kalb, P. (2013). Art since 1980. Laurence King Publishing

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Posted by author: Doug Burton

One thought on “Study event review: OCA South West – Global perspectives

  • Kate’s questions are interesting, and I don’t think they only apply to being an artist. Some of them are questions I’ve been faced with or asked myself in several different fields of work.

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