Founded by Michael Young, one of the founders of The Open University , in 1987, The Open College of the Arts is an open access provider of creative higher education courses. From short and foundation courses to degrees, The OCA's distance learning programme aims to give people from all walks of life an opportunity to develop and express their creative talents. This year, we are so excited that The OCA a special (free!) Big Draw short course, inspired by our theme Drawing with Senses. Read on for our chat with Joanne Mulvihill-Allen from the college all about sensory art and their fab new course!
Interview: Lucia Vinti and Joanne Mulvihill-Allen
Hi Joanne! We’re very excited that this Autumn the OCA will be running a free Drawing with Senses themed short course! What can people expect from the course and who is it aimed at?
The course is open to everyone, beginners and those with practical experience, a lot of the exercises are about mark making, and this is because through making marks we can begin to build our drawing skills and experience our senses in an accessible way. Mark making in this way, by using our senses, allows drawing to go beyond just using our sight. The course is asynchronous so participants can dip in and out as they please but we are holding one live online session which we hope to see lots of people at. Find out more including how to sign up here!
Creative exercise inspired by sound
The course is being run by tutors Diana Ali and Michelle Whiting – could you let us know a little more about the tutors and their creative backgrounds?
Diana is an OCA tutor on foundation courses, and on our visual arts degrees which are painting, drawing, fine art and creative arts. She is also a Visual Artist and curator whose practice involves connecting with different people, in different places and through different languages. Michele works as an OCA programme tutor for Fine Art, from levels 1 to MA and her own research based work concerns walking as a method in fine arts practice, making durational walks and subsequent drawing, painting and film.
Tutors Michelle and Diana
In your opinion, how can examining our senses help us become better learners and artists?
I think through a multisensory exploration we can become more attuned to the world around us and these heightened observations will allow us to present, develop, experiment and create in new and exciting ways. It will also help build an awareness of people who don’t have access to all the senses and consider the ways in which we can make more inclusive work.
Mark-making inspired by vision, smell and sound.
Do you have a favourite artist that explores the senses, or one of the senses, in a unique way?
During the summer I visited a Colourscape which was installed locally, for anyone unfamiliar they are large air-supported colour sculptures where colour is used to make an active space. The first was made in 1971 by Peter Jones. It was such an enveloping experience, a total treat for the senses!
The OCA has recently transferred its awarding body to The Open University. What will the positive impacts of this be for the college and the students?
The Open University is a world leader in distance education and shares with OCA a common heritage of being founded by Michael Young. With The Open University we will be exploring a shared mission of open access and widening participation, providing access to high quality higher education to all through distance learning.
What other courses should people interested in drawing look out for at the OCA?
We have several Foundation Drawing courses available for those totally new to Higher Education and drawing but most of our degree courses are also open access and designed with a certain level of scaffolding which drops away as you progress. We have degrees in Drawing, Painting, Fine Arts, and you can also explore drawing in our Creative Arts and our illustration degrees. Find out more here
And finally, we’re asking all our sponsor-partner organisations to tell us their favourite…
Taste? Salted Caramel ice-cream
Smell? Sunday Roast
Sight? My daughter
Feeling? The blast of heat when stepping off a plane somewhere warm.
Sound? Crunchy autumn leaves beneath my feet
Thank you so much Joanne! To find out more about The Big Draw at The Open College of the Arts, visit their website.
Interested in taking part in The Big Draw? Registrations for our 2023 festival 'Drawing with Senses' are still open! Find out the benefits of becoming an organiser here and about this years sense-sational theme here.