SHOWCASE was an Exhibition of work by Foundation, Under- and postgraduate students to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the founding of the Open College of the Arts. The Exhibition – held at the Oxo Gallery, London, from 24th to 28th October 2018 – also marked the launch of JUICE (the journal of Useful Investigations in Creative Education) which is a collaboration between the University of the Creative Arts and OCA. JUICE is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal which contains a multi-media collection of material and you can read more about it here
I was determined to get there on the first day of the SHOWCASE Exhibition despite the chaos caused by the combination SW Rail strike and a signals failure – and was very pleased to be their second visitor.
The Oxo Gallery is in a busy tourist area so has the prospect of inviting many visitors. However, at first I thought it was an empty shop, waiting to be set-up, and almost walked past as the front display space looked quite bare. A good idea to have the OCA Timeline around the walls but I think that would have been better placed in the area at the back of the building. The concept of “Showcase” was the most important for me – to celebrate the multi-dimensional, creative work of so many distance learning students.
I had been expecting to see artwork and photographs spread around the walls and to see small sculptures as well as be able to handle sketch books, photobooks and textiles, read and listen to poetry and music. That’s what I was wanting to see and to feel proud of belonging to a group of so many creative people who inspire and support me.
Being met by the three smiling invigilators, Stefan, Johnathan and Sarah-Jane and then talking with Eddie from OCA office.
I enjoyed having the opportunity to see work that, up to then, I’d only seen on-line; to be able to handle the small sketch books and photo-books which were on the shelves along one wall; peer through the glass display cabinets at small prints; see video work on a larger screen than just my computer or laptop and talk with some of my fellow students about their work. Below is a small selection:
Stefan Schaffeld’s object-box was very inviting but it took me a while to accept his invitation to ‘unpack’ it. I was surprised what came up for me about making a mess of things and wanting to make sure that everything was put back in its proper place.
How can I use this experience?
I’m asking myself this due to being co-curator of the Exhibition being held by some of the members of the Thames Valley Group in February 2019. I enjoyed being able to handle and look at small sketch books and photo books and interact with Stefan’s object-box. It was also good to see video/film work projected on the walls at a larger size than on a computer. However, it felt odd not to see photographs, paintings, sketches, drawings on the walls. It could be that I’m just pre-conditioned to expect that in a gallery and sometimes the size of a gallery dictates what can be exhibited and how. A large gallery with separate spaces can offer more scope than just one room (which is what we will have in what is a fairly large gallery and well-known gallery in a busy Town). I certainly hope that Thames Valley Group will expand exponentially to include even more members from the other Art disciplines as I’m increasingly attracted by the idea of having larger multi-media Exhibitions.
I hope that the OCA Student Site will show some videos and/or photographs of the Exhibition and the Private View. If you’ve been and read my review here please do leave a note of your own blog post on the visit.
I subscribe to JUICE now as well and one of the earliest articles is by OCA tutor Doug Burton who writes about ‘the benefits of time and distance in the delivery of HE at the Open College of the Arts’ and I really identified with his description of ‘slow creativity’