Concluding reflections

“Out of all the topics covered in this course, which felt the most comfortable to you? Why?”

I find “comfortable” an odd word here, I didn’t find any of them comfortable. Inspiring, challenging, frustrating, rewarding… but really none of them felt “comfortable” at all. Nor would I have wanted them to feel comfortable. I think I’d have learned less if the course had felt more familiar.

“Did you discover anything completely new to you? What was it?”

Again, pretty much everything was new to me. I really enjoyed exploring the artists referenced in the self portrait section of the course, Anne Noggle was a huge inspiration to me. My photoshop skills continue to evolve and I was very happy to work increasingly with alternate formats to my dslr – including I-phone, film and photogram. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed putting the essay together and hope that this enthusiasm will continue into UVC.

“Which area enabled you to come closest to finding your personal voice?”

I’m fortunate in that my personal voice is well on its way – I look at the familiar, the forgotten, the domestic, from an essentially feminine and feminist perspective. This voice allowed me to do each assignment with a consistency of approach and as such as I was able to tweak my response to each assignment so that they all fitted with my approach and nascent voice.

“Which area seemed furthest away from who you want to be as a photographer?”

Part 2 was the part where I managed to miss the most exercises off my blog. But then again I was very engaged with the assignment right from the start of that part. Part 1 produced probably the most disappointing/least rewarding assignment, but my A5 would never have happened without that step on the ladder, so I’m reluctant to dismiss it. Besides which, it hit the brief and that was all it was required to do.

“What were the main things you learnt? Were there any epiphany moments?”

Although I am grateful for the steady learning on this course, I think three of the biggest learnings were outside of the course notes. The first one was choosing, buying and using a printer. I have a Canon Pr0-10S and am insanely proud that every single print that went in for assessment was made by me either on that printer or in the dark room. I can’t even start to list everything that I had to learn from paper to profile to soft proofing, but now I can make my own prints, straight away. I had a lot of help from the OCA discussion board during this process and I am very grateful for that. The second one was continuing and expanding my commitment to interaction with other students. I started a small peer group with the aim of mutual support and challenge with the plan to build connections that will endure outside of the academic framework. This year we have added accountability to that too and I look forward to seeing how we grow both individually and as a group. I participate in the Forum Live fortnightly hangouts and am a regular host, as well as taking part in the photography reading group hangouts (though I’ve been slack in documenting those). As well as participating in the regional Thames Valley Group I have also been welcomed into the South West regional group. The third learning came directly out of my small peer group – when discussing the imbalance across genders in big exhibitions such as Arles, one member commented that it would only change if women like us started routinely submitting work for exhibitions, to deal with the oft quoted return “there weren’t enough submissions from women artists”. That lit a fire under me, and I am proud to have entered and shown work at OCA Showcase, the SW OCA Osmosis exhibition and the forthcoming Open Art Collective at Woking in February. I tried, and failed for Format, but at least I tried. Each time is a learning curve.

“Will you return to any of the assignments from this course at a later date? Did you feel as if you were on the cusp of anything?”

Most definitely. Assignment 3 has run its course because of my impending surgery, but I’d like to explore the concept into the menopause, somehow. Assignment 5 will continue – the lace photograms will be a side project for me through UVC, I have some plans already. The initial A5 (the pink images) will I believe be resurrected on Digital Image & Culture, there’s definitely something there.

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