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It's end of year show season - The Open College of the Arts
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It's end of year show season

Different jobs create different cycles of activities. For staff, like myself who work at a full time art college the last couple of weeks always feels like working on a till at Christmas and struggling to get the harvest in on time all rolled into one; lots of people needing your attention and too much work to do in the amount of time allocated.  Final year projects, assessments and end of year shows all happen at once, creating a very exciting if tiring dynamic.
The fruits of all this work go on public show during June, with final year students presenting their best work to an audience. These exhibitions are both a celebration of what they’ve achieved as learners and a public declaration of their identity as emerging practitioners; it’s an art college debutants ball in which soon to be ex-students hope they might be introduced to potential patrons and employers; they’re coming out into the world as eligible artists and designers.
Leeds College of Art opens its doors today and many other art college departments will be doing the same throughout the month. If you are close to an art college then it’s certainly worth having a look at what full time courses have been up to.
Reflection on this annual cycle reinforces the much steadier approach that distance learning offers. We don’t have the focus of the public exhibition or the intensity created by the absolute deadlines of the end of term, but we do offer the opportunity to develop as practitioners over longer and more sustainable periods of time.
I’d be really interested to find out what people thought of their local art college shows and also, whether there’s an appetite for the OCA to create similar exhibitions (perhaps online) for you to participate in?

Posted by author: Christian Lloyd
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12 thoughts on “It's end of year show season

  • I think an online exhibition would be a great idea not only as a showcase for students but the OCA in general. There is some interesting work being produced here, and at a high standard in a lot of cases, and it needs to be seen.
    As a student it’s also very easy to sit in your own bubble of photography, textiles, writing, etc. and not take the time to check out the other disciplines. Any option to make it easier to do this has got be a benefit to us all.

  • There was a discussion about exhibitions on the OCA-student forum a while back. Online would be good, print would be much better….

    • I like the idea of a pop-up show Clive – something that students could do as local groups but also why can’t OCA do that also. There must be some empty shops somewhere in Barnsley or a bit further afield.

      • It’s quite often a requirement, especially at MA level, that students organise their own shows, both interim and final.
        It’s a good learning experience that can be put to good use once graduated.

        • The professional practice module on our college BA Fine Art course requires students to research and organise a one person show. If nothing else they learn the time, effort and money involved! More seriously (though those things are worth knowing!) they find out about funding bodies, venues, insurance, writing catalogues etc. etc. And that is all part of why putting on an OCA exhibition is fraught with difficulties. It is only worth doing if it is a good show and well attended, and that takes an awful lot of work which has to be done on top of usual duties. In addition we have two further complications, one is that work has to be organised from all over the country if not the world and the other is that we do not have a fixed academic year so who’s work do we show?
          Perhaps this is something that the new Student Association could set up a group to look into and weigh up the pros and cons of both a physical and online show.
          The idea of regional groups organising pop-up shows sounds good and could, perhaps include work from writers and musicians as well as visual artists.

  • Yes. I think there should at least be an online Show. I visited a local degree Exhibition last weekend and it helped to make me feel more grounded in what I would like to achieve. It’s inspiring to look at the work of professional and famous photographers (in my case) but looking at the work of Degree students gives me a more attainable marker for development.
    So far as a real show is concerned. I know there are obvious problems with transporting presentations etc apart from having somewhere to display them. I understand that OCA Courses are accredited by the University of Buckingham (correct me if I’m wrong). Buckingham is pretty central I suppose. Is there any scope to have an Exhibition there?

  • I think there should be an online show as a minimum. An online presence would reflect the OCA’s structure os a vitual college and mean that students around the world could see their work displayed. I like the idea of online also because it would be easier for the work of students in non-visual disciplines to share their final year work. I’d really like to be able to see stories, poetry and music featured alongside images. And you could archive each year’s online show so it would continue to be accessible for students in later years.
    In an ideal world a physical exhibition would be great also. Choosing somewhere central would give many of us an opportunity to visit.

  • All our work has to physically go to Barnsley for assessment anyway – the show could either be in the Barnsley area or it could go from there to a suitable venue elsewhere.

  • I’d like to see an online exhibition of work from people graduating with the OCA, similar to the online exhibitions of degree shows that brick universities have. I’m not so interested in putting my own work out to be seen – I can do that independantly – I’m more interested in seeing the outcomes others have achieved as distance learners with the OCA.
    That could work as a marketing/informational thing for prospective and current students.

  • I like the idea of an archive. When I was studying English at Uni, ( a long time ago), we could search through essays for exams that had been written in the past to give us a sense of foundation. As an overseas student, I think maybe I would like to come over for the graduation, ( I’m hoping to get that far!), and maybe an exhibitions could be held around then… as the students are getting ready to gather in one place… over a month or week or whatever of graduations.

  • Personally I’m against a physical exhibition. The OCA is a distance learning organisation and is possibly in the majority online based in communication and presentation as regards students and their work.
    I appreciate to see work printed up is the best scenario but to have a physical exhibition would give some exclusivity to it that could bring a financial burden to those who feel they have to be part of that.
    It also divides viewers attention if there are two separate bodies of work. Does the physical exhibition take on an aspect of higher quality than the online work because the participants have taken the time and expense to present that way?
    Keep it online and everyone has the same opportunity to present their work.

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