Exhibition in situ – Drifting by the Leeds & Liverpool - The Open College of the Arts
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Exhibition in situ – Drifting by the Leeds & Liverpool

As well as presenting my exhibition, I look back near the end of my OCA time, after years of assignments and assessments, highs and lows, applause and disinterest, and ask was it worth it? I suspect the percentage of those starting that finish is small – a flip-side of open access and the many obstacles life can throw during years of part-time study. Though, I of course was hoping for more than an endurance test and good fortune! 

Photography is now everywhere and nowhere , not so much a democratic art but a cultural obsession. That is a sobering thought when trying to get work out in the world, and there are numerous paid entry competitions that do business on the desire of photographers to have their labours seen. There are also many worthwhile outlets for work, often championed by the OCA. While I may not change the world through my photography or even have it viewed widely, the study of art and the dizzying interconnectedness of photography to the world has made me far more tolerant and understanding of different perspectives; it has at least adjusted, if not changed me.

Much dialogue around photography concerns its (mis)representation of people and place. But, apart from as intellectual riddles, the debates often seemed less engaging, once I’d fixed on the principles that photography is a tool and the photograph is a new and separate reality (not the reality of its subject). I remind myself that it is people who miscommunicate, not photographs, and I might ask not what is shown, but why is it shown. The principles also liberate photography, allowing it to be a medium for pure creation. It surprised me that students could excel by not creating their own photography but by making things from existing photographs. Not mastering camera or post-processing technique isn’t necessarily a hinderance. In fact, crafting things from photographs may be an advantage in a world already awash with photographs. Despite being settled on what a photograph is and is not, I am still unable to convince my mother that it doesn’t need to look ‘real’ or even be ‘real’!

In these difficult times, there is sometimes very little to mark the change of state from student to graduate – no physical degree show or ceremony. Though credit goes to the OCA team for staging its first virtual degree show. With a mix of slog and luck, I’ve been able to enjoy seeing my work featured by the BBC and The Yorkshire Post, along with local press. And being short-listed as one of twenty UK students in the Association of Photographer’s student awards (places category) helped me bounce back from some slightly deflating comments in my BoW assessment. So overall, it has been a worthwhile experience but not without significant challenges along the way. I’m pleased to near the point of bowing out on a high with an in situ exhibition of Drifting by the Leeds & Liverpool. It links to a microsite for the project, with the video and more about the work. I do hope that you will visit the photos of the exhibition and please leave comments in the guest book – it will help me demonstrate user engagement for SYP!

Visit exhibition at: https://leedsandliverpool.co.uk/exhibitions.

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Posted by author: Andrew Fitzgibbon
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6 thoughts on “Exhibition in situ – Drifting by the Leeds & Liverpool

  • Congratulations on reaching the end of your studies and good luck with your exhibition! I’ve been continually amazed by the creativity of those on the Photography Degree – such diverse and interesting work from so many, including yourself. Good luck with future projects!

  • What a wonderful short film Andrew, you really managed to take the viewer on a journey along the water side and through the mind. Congrats and all the best for the future.

  • Very good exhibition and wording of your journey through the years. I am at the beginning of my journey into the photography degree and i find your piece inspiring and real. Good luck in your future journey’s.

  • Thanks Joanna and enjoy your journey; as photography can be about anything, the course is a great opportunity to explore any area you are interested in and represent it through your images. Good luck!

  • The coming together of work and the way you articulate it is testimony to your continued engagement with the course and photography culture in general. I remember we met initially at the Impressions Gallery on an excellent portfolio review and exhibition day – organised principally by you! Over and beyond the call of duty for a student rep. That was really inspiring for myself and the other students there. Good to see the ‘Canal Project’ coming together and being summarised through the final web site ‘hub’ . Look forward to ‘nudging’ you on that final journey (sounds dramatic doesn’t it!) but its not the end really…just the beginning.

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