OCA study visit to Cambridge Original Printmakers Biennale



On 25th September I went along to my first OCA study visit, organised by Clare Wilson. It was easy for me to get to because I don’t live far from Cambridge, which was one of my reasons for choosing this study visit, the other was to further explore and learn about different printing techniques. I’ve only tried lino cutting in any sort of depth, so it was a great opportunity to so what other methods I might be interested in using in the future.

I was quite excited to meet other people studying with OCA who might live locally, and to find out about their experiences. When I arrived at the Pitt Building, Trumpington Street, I quickly found Clare and the four or five other OCA students who had come along for the study visit. I got chatting the other students straight away, all asking each other which course we were on (printing and photography mostly) and our respective backgrounds. I found the tutor, Clare, approachable and easy to talk to as well. It felt reassuringly relaxed and informal.

We were advised by Clare that it was quite a small exhibition, so we may want to go to the Fitwilliam, up the road, after lunch. There were two large rooms filled with a huge variety of prints hung on temporary exhibition display panels. Another student noted the title/name tags hung below each painting were cut quite shabbily. Conversations were stuck with others on the study visit; we asked each other about which prints grabbed our attention and learned more about each other’s influences and interests. The woman I spoke with for the majority of the day and had lots of fun with is on the photography course but as we live quite close to each other I think we’ll keep in touch. It was interesting to learn different people’s perspectives, and also to have a conversation with Clare where I learned a bit more about what assessors night be looking for. The prints themselves were on the whole apparently produced for commercial purposes and therefore maybe held greater appeal to those interested in owning beautiful artworks rather than those interested in developing their own practice. Although, saying that, I found a few of the artist’s works quite inspiring and it was useful to be able to speak to the makers about how they produced certain effects in their artwork. The work I personally found most interested were those which employed more than one printing technique. I picked up several cards of the artists whose websites I’d like to visit for future interest and inspiration. These included: Laura Chaplin, Anna Perlin, Sue Jones, Carol Robson, Clare Maria Wood and Iona Howard.

The group lunch at the Fitzwilliam museum was very enjoyable, Clare asked us all if we’d found any inspiration in the exhibition. Many people said they hadn’t and found it too pedestrian and compared it unfavourably to other similar shows in London which tend to be on a larger scale and handled more professionally. Three of us went to find some prints and photographs being exhibited in the museum, Realisation: Recent works by Susan Aldworth and Jane Dixon. The exhibition aims to challenge assumptions about reality and identity, some of it looking at the brains of people with mental impairments. It’s a small exhibition but there were a few discussions raised by the work.


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