OCA Thames Valley Group Meeting 19th September 2015

Brief notes to record some thoughts from this meeting which was overshadowed somewhat, for me, in knowing that this would be the last time Sharon Boothroyd would be our presiding tutor. Sharon has now left the OCA to work elsewhere but at least I can continue following her blog Photoparley and her Facebook page.

  • There is continuing discussion regarding the differences between imitation, copying, noting influences and referencing .Interestingly there is, separately, a WeAreOCA post http://weareoca.com/fine_art/steal-like-an-artist/ regarding the book “Steal Like an Artist” by Austin Kleon (2012) which is along the lines of we learn to be artists by emulating others; explore what interests/enthuses you in other artists’ work and expand on this in your own work. Kleon also appears on YouTube videos and there’s a link to one on the WeAreOCA post. Kleon’s website is here and I’ve subscribed to his newsletter and now have the book. I like his No. 4 “Use your hands” We need to move to feel like we’re making something with our bodies, not just our heads (p.54)
  • Many of us in the group continue to ponder over text and image and how much text is too little or too much. I also hadn’t really taken on board the idea that images can be used as punctuation and this was discussed in relation to Amano’s work.. I know that intellectually but I don’t think that I’ve done this consciously up until now. As a side issue there I’ve also thought and commented previously on how much my reading of a photograph is influenced by knowing a an artist or hearing them talk. I will be writing more on that when reporting on the exercises/projects for Part 4 of C&N.
  • We looked at some very personal work done by Eddie, exploring his feelings around his wife’s serious illness. Very much a way in which photography can be used as therapy.
  • The way we make photographs can change during a series. This arose when Sharon was commenting on Holly’s recent work and how her imagery had developed. I’ve had my own experience of that anad think it’s to do with becoming absorbed into the work and entering a different kind of creative space – moving from the literal to the metaphoric and paying attention to waking dreams and thoughts.
  • Re-tracing the past can be such a creative way to find new pathways in the present. I’ve done this myself and it’s so illuminating to see how other people in the group are doing this. Richard showed us a family journal of walks done together when he was small and we discussed ways he could use this in his current project in a way that’s meaningful to him. I also learned (from Holly) that the National Library of Scotland  has historical online maps from all over.
  • Sexism in photography and in ‘real’ life plus how to translate the latter into a body of work. Vicki is bravely exploring this very large topic. My self query is, given that I no longer step out into the world of work, how much am I protected from this and, indeed, how much am I so inured to it that I no longer notice it? I do know that, recently, I was concerned about my grand daughter going off to University because of all the stories about sexual harassment in student life. My consolation was that she does have a black belt in karate and, even more important, is well able to stand up for herself verbally. I was also pleased and touched to learn that her older brother had had a talk with her about all this and given her advice.

I talked about the tutor feedback from my Assignment 3 and showed a mix of small square and landscape triptychs I had created. I also mentioned my idea of creating a geocache and setting up a mini-exhibition as well – leaving some prints hanging on trees in the Copse. My response to feedback is here  with the triptych images and there will be a further blog post reporting on ongoing work.

20th October 2015


Kleon, A. (2012) Steal Like an Artist Workman Publishing, NY.