I am very pleased to announce two new members of the OCASA committee, Martin Richardson for Music and Stephanie (Steve) Cussons for Fine Art, their personal and election statements follow:
Martin replaces Charlotte Williams the previous Music rep and Treasurer, we are also very pleased that Martin will also take over that role as well.
My working life has been spent as a publisher, most recently with Oxford University Press who I worked with for over 20 years before retiring four years ago. Since then I have been a part-time consultant/writer. I spend most of the year living at my house in Southern Spain, near Cadiz, though I visit the UK on a regular basis in order to see my family and friends.
I enjoy listening to a wide range of both classical and popular music, and since living in Spain have become particularly interested in flamenco. I have always wanted to try my hand at composition and in recent months have taken my first tentative steps in this direction. So far I have very much enjoyed the experience but have been frustrated by my lack of musical and technical expertise. I have therefore recently started the Music 1: Composing Music course, in order to begin to acquire some theoretical and practical knowledge of music composition.
I am also a keen sailor and gardener, and I enjoy experiencing different cultures through travelling.
Although I have only just begun studying with OCA, and am not yet fully up to speed with the special requirements of music students, I would be keen to continue the good work of my predecessor in representing the Music community within OCASA.
We are fortunate to be studying at a time when recently developments in technology have changed the distance learning experience beyond recognition. Technology has also had a huge impact on how music is created and enjoyed. Studying from home can sometimes be a lonely experience, though technology can help here too, for example through the use of social media.
If elected I would work to harness the resources that are available to OCASA to bring together OCA music students, both virtually and physically. I would also bring an international perspective, since most of my working life has been concerned with global education and research.
Steve replaces Carol Smith
I came to Art late in life having been forced to give it up at school at 15. I studied Maths at university and, after an early flirt with aeronautics, my career moved towards IT, specialising in data analysis and database design. Eventually I became self-employed as an IT consultant, mainly to government, until retiring to have kids (I might be called Steve but I am female!). My husband is a surgeon and latterly I have managed his private practice.
With my children growing up and my husband moving towards retirement, I decided to expand my horizons. Initially, I studied Astrophysics with John Moore’s Liverpool by distance learning, but dropped out due to the poor communication and isolation. Local leisure courses reintroduced me to painting, life drawing and printmaking, but, feeling the need for focused and structured tuition, I chose OCA to fit in with work and family commitments.
Initially, I just wanted a course to help me develop my draftsmanship; I certainly wasn’t planning to embark on a degree. Now, I am enjoying the intellectual challenge and the artistic community so much that I cannot imagine life without OCA. It has developed my skills and interests in ways I could never have imagined. When not sketching, cooking or gardening, I cycle, hike, ski, take macro photographs and peer through telescopes.
One can feel very isolated, studying on your own by distance learning. From my own early experience, I see communication as key, between the college and its students, with tutors and between students. OCASA was formed to provide a student voice to the college. Its recent survey provided excellent feedback to OCA which is responding with ambitious plans in Project 2014. Continued communication between the study body and the college will be important for the success of these plans.
Many students disengaged with the new OCA student site initially, for whatever reason. Now, new content and opportunities for engagement are being added all the time. I hope to support this work going forward, providing student feed back. I am a regular contributor to the OCA site, facebook groups, hangout crits and join as many fine art study visits as I can. I realise that not everyone wants to engage with all of these but we need to make them as visible, available and welcoming as we can, especially to new students.