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Photofusion Annual Members Show - The Open College of the Arts
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Photofusion Annual Members Show

Two OCA students have work selected for the Photofusion Annual Members’ Show (AMPS). Now in its fourth year, the South London gallery’s annual members’ show will be a salon-style exhibition this year, reflecting increased interest and enabling the gallery to show a greater range of members’ work. The exhibition starts on the 7th of December – more information available from here http://www.photofusion.org/.
OCA students Mo Greig and Eileen Rafferty each have a picture in the exhibition. Sending work to galleries is daunting to many, but if students are to develop a practice that will sustain them once the course is over it is important to take opportunities to share work. Eileen and Mo reflect on the experience below.

Kelly & Lilla ©Mo Grieg
Why enter?
As artists we ultimately make work to be shared: it is for an audience. Otherwise the risk is that it will just remain pretty pictures in a box under the bed. As part of the process in getting an audience for our work we need to think about not only what images we are taking but where they will be seen. Most of us would like to see our work on a gallery wall at some point in our career.
Photofusion is a gallery that supports emerging photographers on many levels. By entering work in the members show not only do we get an opportunity to get our work seen by the public, we also get a chance to meet and talk with other photographers who are in a similar place to us.
Taking the first step
Many of us worry that our work isn’t good enough to be seen outside the college or domestic environments. We fear being rejected or deemed unworthy and this can prevent people taking that first step. Eileen submitted work to the 2011 exhibition and was unsuccessful. This was a disappointment (if not necessarily a surprise to her). But she feels very strongly that the only way to learn and grow is to sometimes risk failure or rejection. Going to the 2011 exhibition and related talks and looking at what is selected and why was a huge learning opportunity. Trying something difficult and failing can be a learning process in itself – you don’t fall apart and can cope and it makes you stronger and perhaps a bit better at dispassionately judging your work going forward.
What does being selected mean to you?
It’s fascinating and instructive to be part of a well-oiled machinery putting together an exhibition. There are decisions to be made about framing and printing, and whether to offer the work for sale (and if so, at what price and size). Photofusion are making a book of the exhibition: how would you describe your work in 150 words? Beyond all this, having your work selected by people who don’t know you or the work beyond what you send can be an important affirmation and gives an important encouragement to keep going.
What next?
The key message behind this blog is to show that OCA students can stand alongside those from traditional universities, and to encourage others to have a go. You really have nothing much to lose and a great deal to gain. Taylor Wessing or BP Portrait Award 2013, anyone?

Posted by author: Genevieve Sioka
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15 thoughts on “Photofusion Annual Members Show

  • Thanks all.
    Vicky – I think that in many ways submitting work is less daunting than a group critique session at a study day. It’s all fairly anonymous and you don’t normally have to talk to anyone about your work. I think it’s important to have work that matters to you and that fits the criteria for the exhibition and not just send in on spec. But at some point we do have to stop thinking of ourselves as ‘just’ students and try our work in the bigger world. There is little to lose and a great deal to gain by having a go.

    • Very valid point Eileen—about it being anonymous and therefore less daunting. The only downside is when you get rejected you have no idea why. Group critiques—I will get brave enough for the next one!

      • I hope so Vicki. I’ve been reflecting on your comments. The thing is that I don’t think the nerves ever really go away. At some point we all have to decide whether to let our doubts and worries define us, or whether to ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’. I say read Norma’s story again. And just do it.

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