Student stories: From Big Draw participant to Psychogeographer | The Open College of the Arts
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Student stories: From Big Draw participant to Psychogeographer

Nina is an Investigating Place with Psychogeography student, in this piece she writes about her journey in the OCA.

What drew you to the OCA?

I’ve had romanticised views of art schools for the best part of twenty-five years now, I always wanted to go to an art school, but I was discouraged from pursuing higher education. So, I went into the world of office work and made collage and zines in my free time. I only considered it a hobby, and I still feel reluctant to call it art – but I think that is more to do with confidence.

At the start of lockdown last year, I considered taking a short course because my second job dried up. I wanted to do Creative Education, but I wanted to “try out” the OCA first so I signed up to the Big Draw because drawing was my biggest artistic fear.

How did you find taking part in the Big Draw?

I did three drawings, and then I reverted back to collages! I also tried weaving. I pretty much abandoned drawing, but I found myself being much more creative and – thankfully – it distracted me from my anxiety surrounding the global news for a couple of hours a week. However, I did find the Big Draw useful for learning how to use the OCA VLE, Padlet, and meeting other students. I found my peers incredibly supportive, and I felt certain I wanted to do more courses. If anything, the course reignited by love for elearning.

What did you do after finishing the Big Draw?

After the Big Draw I continued to be involved in the OCA community, I enrolled on Arts and Environment and that course inspired a lot of reflective writing. I also took part in #OCAtober and #12DaysOfOCA. I took some time off afterwards and returned to apply to Investigating Place with Psychogeography.

Why Investigating Place with Psychogeography?

That is a good question. I had hoped to study Creative Education but I forgot to sign up in time. I had been thinking about psychogeography after doing the Arts and Environment module. And the course was beginning during a time of big change for me; I had some health concerns, was starting a new part-time job and was physically returning to my workplace which was causing a lot of anxiety. I needed another distraction. 

I did not know much about psychogeography, but I was intrigued. I still find the subject confusing, but the investigations have produced some rich reflections. And I started a blog about my observations and recollections. Whether I am doing psychogeography right or wrong I am finding myself to be more mindful. I am also enjoying my regular dérives and creating without thought of end products.

What has been the highlight of your time with OCA?

I have just enjoyed having the opportunity to connect with other students, and study at my own pace. My tutor is helpful and accommodating, he encourages me to pursue my academic interests – and has inspired me to read more texts in the field of ontology (which is something I thought I would never be able to get to grips with). I also like how approachable the OCASA are! I feel like part of a community at OCA.

I value the freedom that comes with being an OCA student, and will be coming back next year.

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Posted by author: Nina Vallard
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