Assignment Three, entitled “Work Experience”, encourages the student to find work in the photographic industry that the student would like to situate themself in as a professional.
I have thought long and hard about this assignment since before I enrolled on the course. Do I want to go back into ‘industry’, or an industry? No, is the very straightforward answer, if by the term industry it is conceived as an organised organisation, reporting structures, salaries and the whole ‘nine yards’ – to borrow a meaningless term from ‘industry’. However I am starting to feel as if I have entered a new world, whilst if not entirely a Brave New one, one that has a number of idiosyncrasies. One of a ‘practice based artist’.
I want to make work, and specifically around the subject that has surfaced from my studies. And it is the realization that the process of research during those studies has led me to this conclusion and, consequently, I think that with out the structure of research and enquiry I might not make work, that I might not be disciplined enough in the long term to continue with the process. And that is a scary thought.
Graduate artists appear to fall into a few camps. Those that find gainful employment in a commercial role, which may or may not be aligned to their academic qualifications – commercial photographers, picture editors etc. Those that enter the academic world and find time to continue their practice alongside their professional role as teacher. And those that find ways to survive otherwise.
I am in a fortunate position. I am retired (from employment) I have time and the wherewithal to spend time developing as an artist – still a label I find difficulty attributing to myself – and the assignment provides both an opportunity to expand the comprehension of what it means to be an artist but also to reflect on direction and purpose. I fall into the third camp as described above, luckily I have survived and I’m in the enviable position to be able to choose, to a certain extent where I will go next.
I had always wanted to continue to study after this course, though my certainty was militated by the indecision regarding what course. I had thought of writing, I had thought of taking some of the updated level 2 OCA photography courses. I have been encouraged in several quarters to consider an MA and it is something I am now actively considering. This will of course be mediated by whatever mark I get in the current assessment for which I am neither hopeful or concerned by – I have absolutely no confidence in predicting where the work will sit. All I know is, it is honest.
It has been agreed that assignment three will be deferred until after assignments four and five and so the course of the final stages of study has been set. It has been agreed that for this assignment I will endeavour to collaborate with someone/an organization to make some work and for that to happen in good time the preparatory work needs to be commenced now. To that end I have begun talking to people about my work, so far nothing has developed, but I am hopeful.
There are of course uncertainties; chiefly perhaps the knowledge that to get to where I think I want to be requires a journey and development. I suspect I will know when I have made strides towards that distant place, but equally sure I will still have uncertainty when I do. The most reassuring component that I feel today is that on reflection I am most assuredly in a different place than I was four years ago, and that is encouraging me to continue stepping into places where I am unsure of myself.