The OCA Europe regional group began as a group of four Switzerland-based students who wanted to try to connect with their peers. As we began to investigate what we might be able to achieve, we expanded out and are now happy to include students from twelve different countries. Distance learning can be an isolated experience, and we hope to create a network and a safe place to discuss work and get to know our fellow students.
Last year we managed to organise five virtual events and one real-life get together. In January, Stefan, Jane and I met up at muDa (the Museum of Digital Art) in Zürich to have a play and a chat in their interactive artworks. For me, it was so lovely to meet people whose work I had been following from afar. One of the strengths of getting to know a smaller group of artists is the ability to begin to really understand other people’s processes and interests. This has had a significant impact on my work and has helped me to think more critically about what I want to achieve.
In February, we had our first virtual meeting. This was a Pecha Kucha and was an excellent opportunity to see what people were working on. For those of us presenting, it gave an invaluable opportunity to consider how to talk about our work.
March saw our first virtual ‘work in progress critique’ led by tutor Jayne Taylor. It was great to look at such varied work with textiles, photography, essay writing and painting represented. An important part of the creative process is learning to receive and respond to feedback. Being able to present ideas in a small, friendly group before sending them out to a broader audience is really worthwhile.
Moving Image programme leader Matt White joined us in April for a virtual talk on ‘Research as Practice’. This was an inspirational talk which helped us think more critically about the role research plays in our work. Especially enjoyable was being led through one of Matt’s own projects as he showed us how inspiration leads to action, and to reflection. I have been trying to use this method in my assignments since and find it really helps me focus my ideas.
In May, Jayne led another well-attended WIP critique session where a varied set of student work was reviewed. It was useful to have a good amount of time available for the discussion, and with the multi-disciplinary nature of our members, the diversity of feedback was exciting.
June was a student-led virtual meeting with level 3 students Jane (Photography) and Christine (Creative Arts). They talked about their different experiences of working at level 3: “The level 3 Journey: experiences and lessons learned”. It was fascinating to see how they worked through problems and dealt with the dual threads of research and the creation of a body of work. Even for students on level 1, there were plenty of ideas for ways of working and especially how to link theory and practice.
After the summer break, we started with a comprehensive explanation of how to think about exhibitions with tutor Helen Warburton taking us through her current work with BAFTAs archive. In the Q&A afterwards, it was really interesting to see how each student had a different area of interest from the logistics of presentation and captioning to wider thoughts about narratives and visitor flow.
Our next meeting is going to be a wonderful experiment as tutor Caroline Wright leads us on a Virtual Studio Day. We will be spending the Saturday working together and alone from South Africa all the way through Switzerland to Sweden.