I recently attended my first meeting of the OCA South West group. The meeting was attended by ten OCA students (each studying one of several different disciplines) and the Photography curriculum leader, Jesse Alexander.
Having never attended one of these meetings before, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. We spent the morning looking at, and discussing, Jesse’s work and then we moved on to debating the nature of beauty in landscape images, using a David Bate essay (Notes on beauty and landscape, 2000) as our starting point. The afternoon was then spent looking through the work of each individual student.
I found both the morning and afternoon sessions really interesting. Firstly, it was fascinating to see the work of one of the course tutors. As students, we see so much of each other’s work (on the OCA forum, the Facebook/Flickr pages or on our blogs) but we rarely get an insight into the working processes of practicing artists. Personally, I found this insight really valuable, not least because, it made me realise that my own working processes are not that far removed from those who do this type of work professionally. Secondly, I found the debate about the David Bate essay particularly useful because, although it is not especially relevant to the work I am doing at the moment, I am leaning towards choosing the Landscape option for my next course. I think our debate probably confirmed for me, that this is something I would enjoy learning more about in the future.
Thirdly and finally, I got a lot out of our afternoon discussions regarding everyone’s work in progress. It was so nice to get a feel for what other students are currently doing (whatever their course/creative pathway). With regards to my own work, I took along a series of small prints of my kusudama. I photographed each of the nine complete structures and presented three different versions of each photograph, i) a colour object on a pure black background, ii) a black and white object, iii) a colour object on a colourful background (as per the mineralogy book I reviewed recently). I wanted to see what the others thought about the method of presentation for my project.
Views were mixed, but in general everyone preferred the coloured objects. Jesse did point out however, that there would be a certain perverseness in presenting the objects as small, black and white images. This would make them very hard to read/understand, which would actually be in keeping with the idea that my digital identity is fairly elusive. That said, even he agreed that he would prefer to see big, colour images of the finished objects for assessment. What surprised me, was that everyone said that they wished I’d brought some of the kusudama with me. They all wanted to see and touch the objects. In fact, Jesse did also mention that without seeing the objects, a cynical assessor, might even question whether or not I had Photoshopped the whole project! So it looks like I will need to find a way to safely transport at least a few of my kusudama for assessment.
After all of the discussion of my work, I feel quite happy about progressing with making my book. The meeting gave me a lot to think about, but it also gave me a lot of confidence for proceeding. I will look forward to attending another meeting of the South West group in the not too distant future.
Bate, D. (2000) Notes on beauty and landscape. Reproduced in: Campany, D. (2003). Art and Photography. Phaidon: London, pp.286-287.