Study event review: Arts & Environment E-Meet | The Open College of the Arts
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Study event review: Arts & Environment E-Meet

25 September 2019 18:00-19:00

This is a brief summary of our September E-meet with information and links to various references and work discussed. 

Background: Arts & Environment E-meets are open to all OCA students and combine individual presentations with group discussion to explore and share ideas about how creative practices can engage with environment issues and place, particularly at this time of global climate crisis.

At the September E-meet we discussed acts of observation, drawing, photography and walking as tools of engagement with site and environment. We also considered politics and narratives associated with this. It was great to be connecting with students across different time zones and disciplines around these ideas. 

We loosely followed our usual 5 minute Pecha Kutcha format of 10 x 20, that’s ten images at 20 seconds per slide, set to run automatically on Powerpoint. Thanks for fascinating presentations from Amano, Gesa and Doug and to Anna for sharing Instagram work. Also attending in spirit but unable to join for tech reasons were Emily and Sybille.

Amano (Somerset) shared photography of native birds and weeds, and of a contested area of local ground that he had returned to again and again documenting its transformation during building work. We discussed narratives, stories and politics suggested by the images, this led to discussion of visual narratives, photobooks and Martin Parr. Martin Parr’s 3 volumes on photobooks

Gesa  (Glasgow) shared a photographic project about fuzzy boundaries, verges and weeds. She discussed ideas around disorientation and the photographic surface. She has also been exploring the building up layers of meaning by re-photographing her own prints, sometimes including a fingertip seen holding the photograph. ‘Stepping into the verge, into the photographic space.’ This triggered  a discussion around ideas of near and far, and relation to technical attention to depth of field using medium format analogue, iPhone and 35mm cameras. 

A small medium-format print held and rephotographed (part of ongoing Drawing/Contact series).

Doug (South Africa) Doug showed us a collaged image combining sources of a rock, fossil and dragon fly. He had been exploring layering of 2 elements. (cut short tech problems!) We had some tech problems with the presentation. So hopefully, to be continued next time.

Anna (South West) discussed her current fascination with using a microscope iPhone attachment, which she is sharing via instagram: @anna.goodchild website

Next, Dan presented some thoughts on his visit to the Bigger than the plate exhibition at the V&A and showed a clip of film Our Daily Bread (details below) making connections to students uses of photography and politics of rural and agricultural spaces.

Food: Bigger than the Plate at V&A. The show runs until 20 Oct and features more than 70 installations by artists, designers, scientists and chefs, divided into four sections: “Compost”, “Farming”, “Trading” and “Eating”

Personal highlights for discussion:


An Italian dairy farmer turns the 150,000kg of manure produced every day by his 3,500 cows into a terracotta-like material for bricks, tiles and tableware.


Our Daily Bread”, a 13-minute film by Nikolaus Geyrhalter and Wolfgang Widerhofer, looks at industrial food production and high-tech farming. (We watched a clip.)


Trading”—which focuses on the buying, selling and transporting of food—“Banana Story”, Johanna Seelemann, “banana passport” a 14-day journey.

Kathryn Bohm’s Company Drinks Drinks made from foraged wild berries served within the exhihbition. (See also Myvillages and recent MIT Press publication, The Rural, global networks of local projects.


House of Ferment – a theatrical sculptural object out of an organic process. A larder housing various home experiments with fermented food processes. Karen Guthrie ( is also head Gardner at Lawson Park – Grizedale Arts.

You can listen to Karen Guthrie discussing this work on youtube.

“The House of Ferment can be seen as a portrait of the Lake District and of the artist, working as a repository for old and new cultures and as an impetus for dialogue, inventiveness, learning and exchange”

After some discussion about ideas raised from this show, Melissa then presented about fermenting food and compost and her development of a Bokashi inspired compost recipe – ‘a fermented, microbial inoculant for composting food scraps from your kitchen.’ As part of preparing her Roving_Microscope event on Saturday 28 September with Calthorpe Community Garden and their anaerobic digester. This led to some technical discussion of aerobic and anaerobic compost!

The next e-meet will be 27 November 6-7pm UK time. All welcome!
If you are interested in attending sign up using this form. 

Once registered, you can use this link to join the E-meet

Check out our Arts & Environment online learning resource free to all OCA students. Email to be added to the virtual learning environment.

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Posted by author: Dan Robinson
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2 thoughts on “Study event review: Arts & Environment E-Meet

  • Hi, My big regret this year (my 2nd BOW/CS year) is that I have been unable to attend any A & E meetings. Especially so as my finals work is founded on the interconnectivity of ecology. My BoW entitled ‘Project Unseen’ is a discovery of a partnership with nature to make art. My Essay addresses environmental Art Photography. I should be delighted to share this with others in 2020 if thought suitable. I very much regret not joining you all in 2019 and hearing the above students (Hi Anna and Doug!) talking about they insightful work. Hopefully meet in 2020

    • Thanks for this Veronica. Yes, please do join us when you can and tell us about your projects. If you can’t make meetings or visits another way to connect is via the Arts & Environment resource online on the VLE. Email for access. Hope to see you in 2020!

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