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OCASA Study Visit

Artist Fiona Yaron-Field has agreed to give a talk to OCA students on 8 February. Fiona is a practising artist who has been using photography for over 25 years; her practice centres around people, so this study visit will be particularly pertinent with those with an interest in portraiture. Fiona was selected for the 2013 Taylor Wessing exhibition and author of ‘Up Close, a Mother’s View‘ (Bunker Hill Publishing, 2008), in which she describes, through image and text, her relationship with her daughter Ophir who has Down’s Syndrome.
Fiona is one of the founders and co-editors of ‘Uncertain States’ which holds talks, seminars, exhibitions and publishes a contemporary photography broadsheet. She is also a visiting Lecturer at Sir John Cass School of Art, Media and Design. At the heart of Fiona Yaron-Field’s photographic practise is a belief that the further one explores the deeply personal and intimate world of ourselves then the closer we get to the universal themes which connect us all.
Space will be limited for this event to be held in Thatcham near Newbury. Although this event is being organised by the OCA Students’ Association, bookings are being handled by the OCA office. Places are free to OCA students. To book your place email enquiries@oca-uk.com

Posted by author: Joanne
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23 thoughts on “OCASA Study Visit

  • I’ve just had a look at her website and see you are right Catherine. I have to confess I was a bit put off by the picture illustrating this blog – it seems a bit too pretty and cliched and didn’t tempt me to look further, but now I have looked I can see that her work is quite strong and compelling overall. I’m sure it will be an interesting talk.

    • Societal as well as personal response are important to Fiona’s work, I quote “…. challenging outdated attitudes and prejudice by offering an alternate photographic representation of people with Down’s syndrome…”. Whilst Fiona will be presenting a broader aspect of her practice at this event, there will be chance to challenge her on this as well Amano, should you decide to attend.

  • Thanks for pointing that out John!
    Since the child appears to have Downs syndrome I assumed it was some kind of self-portrait by Fiona but it seems she is photographing the mother of another child with Downs syndrome.
    Is the photo used here in the 2013 Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize?

  • Yes, I remember that photograph from the 2012 exhibition but not the photographer’s name.
    I have Fiona’s book “Up and Close” which does not include that image since they are all of her own daughter. Interesting that she is continuing the photography of Down’s syndrome by using people other than her daughter.
    As for questions concerning the photography of children by parents and photography of deformed people, this is a wider debate. There is a lot that could be said about the image above and perhaps Fiona might respond to questions about that.

  • I have always liked the photographs of Sally Mann who has photographed her children growing up. It was not until the artist’s talk following the Motherhood exhibition (at The Photographer’s Gallery) that I started to question the role photographers might play when photographing their children. When asked what effect photographing a child might have on their development, one photographer replied that it was unlikely that their child would sue them! I am not exactly sure I heard correctly, was she joking … cruelty towards children is frankly commonplace and with someone like Marry Berry coming out and saying they should be slapped, one realises the depth of the problem.
    I do not wish to suggest Fiona is taking advantage of her child to further her own ambitions. Fiona is obviously aware of such issues as there is a page at the end of her photographic book apparently written by her daughter explaining her feelings about being photographed which is quite a surprising piece since it leaves one wondering at how articulate someone with Downs syndrome might be. If she is able to express herself that well then maybe she might make her own photos.
    I don’t want to create some kind of witch hunt though! That would be missing the point but as a student, I feel a need to understand the photographic process.

    • I do hope you’ll be going to the talk Amano because you’re raising issues that might become clearer as Fiona talks about her own photographic practice. I know from my own experience that people who suffer from Downs Syndrome have quite a wide range of abilities.
      I do want to add also that Fiona has produced other projects including the one in Israel which you might have seen on her website. She is also very interested in photo books and their creation; not to mention her involvement with the Uncertain States collaborative project – something I’m particularly interested in in terms of how it works.

    • Fast work Steve! I agree it was an inspiring event and add my thanks to Fiona for agreeing to come and talk to us; John for persuading her and Eddy for the hospitality of Thatcham. It was so interesting to listen to Fiona describe her journey from student to accomplished photographer with examples of her varied work as illustration. I appreciate the fact that she uses a variety of genres according to her concept – it made me feel freer as well. Fiona was generous with her time, very interactive and her commitment to her work and interest in others shines through. Please will OCA persuade her to become one of their tutors?!
      As a postscript, I think that there should be more of such occasions. It’s educational to visit exhibitions but, as with the Tom Hunter talk, so much more inspirational to me to hear an artist talk about their motives, philosophy and ideas.

      • OCA OCASA Please heed Catherine yesterday’s lecture was exactly what we need, I wish you would put on more lectures either by artists such as Fiona or your own tutors who are mostly artists in their own right. As a regular attendee of the TV group we have been privileged to have the attention of Sharon Boothroyd, these encounters do more for us than anything else.

  • Hi everyone – glad it went well and everyone seemed to enjoy it. Just a reminder that there are lots of artists talks going on in galleries and openings across the country and OCA don’t need to organise them for you to benefit from them 😉

    • The study day with Fiona was much as I had hoped for, less of an ‘artist talk’ more of a conversation between artist and burgeoning artists using the photographer’s work as a stimulus. With questions coming from both sides of the divide certainly more illuminating for the students, there was nevertheless no limit as to the direction of flow. My personal reflections on the day are posted here. There will also be a post on the OCASA web-site as it was an OCASA sponsored study day. I too would like more of these type of events as it merges the twin desires of most students to find ways of meeting up and steep themselves in the work of a contemporary artist.

  • I can only say “hear hear” to all of the comments from those that attended last week. A thoroughly enjoyable ‘conversation’ and extremely worthwhile. I’ve yet to write it up as I’m busy finishing an assignment. Will be done over this weekend

  • As Richard says (and I apologise for the belated post) very worth while and very enjoyable with Fiona being very accommodating for any way the questions went. I’m going through the issues of Uncertain States – lots of good stuff there btw – and will also write it up.

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