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OCASA funded Student Workshops

A transfer of emphasis in funding from the OCA to OCASA has presented the opportunity for student initiatives to form and organise workshops of their choosing. I wanted to share my experience of this year’s OCASA funded workshop with students from the South West Initiative, in the hope that other students reading this will be encouraged to utilise this funding and setup their own groups. If students reading this have already setup regional groups, please do post your experiences to raise awareness.
Anna Goodchild is a Level 3 Photography student who has worked tirelessly in coordinating the SW Initiative; finding venues to host the days, writing newsletters to fellow students and asking tutors from the OCA to lead the events. I was invited to Plymouth, where a space had been prepared with more than enough room for group discussions and presentations of creative work. The preparation for the workshop required the choosing of a topic, that would engage students across disciplines and at various levels of study. I wanted to explore with students approaches to finding and developing a subject for a body of work, this could be at the end of a level 1 unit or for a much larger body of work at level 3.

The workshop began with a presentation of my work in the morning. I decided to take a portfolio with me that contained work in progress, rather than a slide show of finished pieces. For me it was about encouraging students to talk critically about my work and not being afraid to say what they thought. I can remember numerous times in my own art school education, when a very static presentation was given by an established artist and a palpable sense of constriction when asked to respond. So, breaking down this barrier felt like a great way to start. The rest of the day opened up many conversations around each of the students work that they brought in.

One of the most exciting aspects for me was seeing the group discuss critically and openly about each other’s work and across a variety of disciplines. I was able to step back slightly and act as a facilitator, chipping into the conversation when needed. It was really heartening to see even the more tentative students at the beginning of the day engaging with the group, adding constructive comments on their peer’s work. There are many challenges for students to overcome through distance learning; engaging with other likeminded students to create your own peer network has to be one of the trickiest. I believe that if students can find the time, the use of OCASA funded workshops has to be a tangible benefit to a student’s learning across all programmes.
I asked Anna Goodchild to respond to this question for the blog post: How do you feel the OCASA workshops have benefited your own studies at the OCA?
At the cross-curricular workshops I organised, I wanted to introduce a forum which was not competitive but which encouraged students in various arts-centred pathways to engage with super-talented tutors who are artists in their own right, as well as with emerging artists / fellow students who, through an appreciation of one another’s work, encourage, talk about and show expressions of different contemporary voices. Very often, I have sat in these meetings feeling supremely excited and privileged at being in the company of so much art.
How has it affected my work? It has principally given me the confidence to take my work into different spheres: virtual and physical 3D model making; using textiles with my images; I have read relevant texts and articles which I would not have come across being in just my own pathway; just freeing myself to try to express what I want to convey through using my photography differently.
In our creative writing meeting, we were given superb sheets to guide our self-evaluation which comes at the end of our assignments irrespective of subject area, and that too affected how I present my work.
In the bookmaking workshop, students learned how to make a variety of books that they can use to present their work.
I have made friendships and I get together between meetings, with students who live nearby, not only photography students, to discuss our work and how to take it forward, and possible solutions to problems which have arisen. I am convinced that it is because we are not competing with one another, that we can take the criticism and absorb different points of view.
It has been a lot of work and mostly administrative, but, given that tutors have agreed to lead again in the 2018 schedule and that students have started to sign up for the meetings, it must mean that what the programme offers is valued by students and tutors alike.
As part of the South West Initiative, Anna has organised an exhibition for students of the SW group and tutors who have been involved in the workshops, titled “Work-in-Progress” at The Old Brick Workshop near Wellington, from the 20 – 26 November 2017.
Images: 1, Doug Burton, ‘matter-path-cast’ work in progress.
2. Group discussion of student’s level 1 printmaking work.
Photos: Doug Burton

Posted by author: Doug Burton
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13 thoughts on “OCASA funded Student Workshops

  • Great to see these events written about so many thanks for writing the blog Doug from both a tutor and student point of view. I hope other students will be inspired to get involved and to be aware they don’t have to start from scratch as with Anna’s great work with the SW group and other regional groups who have been running for a number of years there are plenty of experts to help students in setting these events up. Plenty of funds left too for they rest of the academic year to end of July 2018.

  • Thanks for this great article. As a new student rep for textiles it has inspired me to try to coordinate a student led event with the funding available now through OCASA. What I really liked was the opportunity student clearly had to have a Studio style experience of crit which is so hard to do online and get the tone right. Sounds like a really good event.
    I also understand there’s a Scottish group. I wonder if anyone has more info on that?

    • Really pleased you enjoyed the post Annette, I hope you’re able to make contact with the Scottish Group, if not think about starting one!

    • Hi Annette! I run OCA Scotland group, which meets up every 6-8 weeks in Glasgow at Street Level Photoworks. We have students across disciplines so please come along to our next meeting on December 9th. The group has a Facebook page where everybody seems to be more active and where all the meetings are scheduled. I contact the group via email prior our next meeting and it’s also copied to the discuss-student website. It is just a matter of participating across the various fora. Email me at yiannitsa483416[at]oca[dot]ac[dot]uk to include you in the newsletter. I really hope you can make it as it’ll be incredibly interesting having a student from Textiles.

      • Hello Yiann
        I picked up your comment onDoug Bruton’s We Are OCA post. Sorry it’s taken so long to get back to you – bit of a hectic time. As a reminder I’m the new rep for Textiles and I’d commented that I’d like to try to connect with the OCA Scottish students group. I see you mentioned a December meeting which I couldn’t get to but would be really delighted to come in future. I live just South of Edinburgh but am in Glasgow a fair bit. I’m studying at level 2.
        You also said there was a Facebook page for the group which I didn’t know about. I will try to find it.
        Best wishes and hope to make more connections with other Scottish students.

  • This sounds like a model for future workshops around the regions, each developing their events to suit the needs of the local group. I’d be happy to facilitate workshops in North west England, or neigbouring regions if there is sufficient interest. My specialism is photography with an interest in bookmaking. If any other tutors wanted to join me for a cross-curriculum workshop let me know: I think all students would gain a lot from looking outside their own discipline – most of my students are surprised when I suggest they can go to study visits for any media. To paraphrase Yann Stevens’ comment, photography (any medium) doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

    • Great to hear your enthusiasm, Derek. I wish you all the best in setting up your regional workshops, and I’m sure there will be interest if you let others know. Do contact the OCA if you need help with this.

  • Great to hear your enthusiasm, Derek. I wish you all the best in setting up your regional workshops, and I’m sure there will be interest if you let others know. Do contact the OCA if you need help with this.

  • I read your post with interest Doug, and really feel this type of workshop fills the gap we distant learners have compared to full time college based students, do you know if there is a South East group, I live in Dover so almost the further SE one can get!,

    • Hi Wendy, I’m really pleased you found my blog helpful. Please contact the OCA to see if there is a SE group, if not do consider setting one up. The benefit the student organisers of the SW group felt was considerable. Please remember that the funding for the workshops is currently in OCASA’s hands, so you as the student body can use this directly to aid your learning. I look forward to hearing how you get on.

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