At the beginning of the academic year 21/22 the Student Association (SA) made a commitment to bring our values to our event programme, particularly those around Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) and the Arts, Environment & Sustainability. We’ve now come to the end of the year and it seems a good point to reflect and celebrate what has happened.
In September we were joined by Caroline Cardus, whose practice focuses on creative activism. Starting from Cardus’ own experiences as a disabled woman, her text based, subversive and graphic style practice brings forth frank, darkly humorous and powerful messages about disability inequality and everyday discrimination.
October saw tutor Andy Hughes in conversation with Lizzie Perrote. Andy’s work explores the littoral zone and the politics of plastic waste.
In November we invited Kirsty Fife, an activist, organiser of Weirdo Zine Fest and self-publisher of zines about class, fatness, queer identity and DIY cultures, to deliver a collaborative workshop about activism.
OCA tutor Suzannah Evans led a writing workshop in December where we looked at our own environmental and ecological concerns and thought about how we write them into being, considering the writer's unique role in raising awareness and creating understanding.
The event was open to all OCA students across disciplines, particularly pertinent to those with an interest in the climate emergency.
In January Textile Artist Kirstie Macleod spoke to us about her Red Dress project - an exploration of identity through embroidery. She was also joined by one of the Artisans that worked on the dress.
Writer, artist, performer and filmmaker Dolly Sen joined us in March to give a talk about their work. Dolly describes herself as working class, Queer, interested in disability and the madness given to us by the world.
Also in March we held a micro film festival called “But Where Are You Really From?”. We invited Isra Al Kassi, T A P E co-founder and curator, to host a discussion about their work using short films to engage in a wider conversation around the mixed heritage experience. A collection of films were made available to watch prior to the event.
Artist Julian Gray joined us in April to facilitate a workshop around Learning how to draw trans and non-binary characters in a respectful way. Julian is an illustrator based in Manchester, UK. Unapologetically queer, trans, disabled and mixed race, Julian is keen to create artwork with authentic representation of populations marginalised by society. His illustrations are often character-driven and pull from a variety of influences including (but not limited to) film noir, 1980s comic art and the Victorian aristocracy.
Helen Clare, menopause educator and advocate, came to us in May to lead a workshop to discuss our experience of and feelings about perimenopause and menopause.
We explored the language we use to talk about the menopausal transition, discovering the words that feel right for each of us, and used a number of different, playful approaches to stimulate our writing on the subject.
Also in May Curious Arts delivered a 2.5 hr training session which aimed to raise awareness, increase confidence around the use of inclusive language and provide a greater understanding of the intersectionality of the LGBTQIA+ community. The introductory session covered a wide variety of topics followed by an opportunity for some judgement free Q&A.
In June, OCA tutor and Artist Ruth MacLennan led a two part workshop. There was a screening of Ruth's film Treeline and a workshop on art and the climate emergency.
Emma from Signbright delivered a Deaf Awareness workshop and Introduction to British Sign Language in June.
We also held the first community meet up for our LGBTQIA+ students in June. Led by Daneka Etchells, a writer, actor and Equality and Inclusion consultant, specialising in arts spaces.
Renowned Disabled Artist Tanya Raabe Webber presented an artists talk and creative workshop in July.
We also had some series of events and training throughout 21/22. Beginning during National Inclusion Week in September through to January, Diversity and Ability delivered a series of webinars around:
Session 1: Dismantling Bias & Celebrating Diversity
Session 2: Intersectionality, What Is It & Why Is It Important?
Session 3: Managing Stress & Anxiety In Education
Session 4: Changing The Way We Understand Disability
Session 5: Inclusivity Through Accessibility
PILAA joined us from January to April to facilitate a series of training events around equality, diversity and inclusion, as it relates to Higher Education, learning and teaching, the Arts and the curriculum. They delivered a range of programmes, including:
Whiteness made simple and Class: The Elephant in the room
What is difference?
Self-Censorship and Facilitating Difficult Dialogues
Being your authentic Self
And a half-day open forum
OCA student Helen Rosemier continued to organise the popular Keeping Up Momentum sessions to inspire, motivate and connect OCA students. There were sessions led by OCA tutors Bryan Eccleshall, Hayley Lock, Diana Ali and Carla Rees as well as a student led session.
2B or Not 2B collective hosted several virtual life drawing sessions across the year. They describe themselves as a BIPOC collective that focuses on inclusivity and diversity, and who try to reflect this in the roster of models they work with.
The Student Association supported Regional groups to host events online and in person and facilitated tutor led events to exhibitions. We worked with tutors to specifically bring discussion and share resources and tips around the Arts, Environment and Sustainability and to flag events such as workshops and exhibitions worth visiting in the UK and internationally.
The SA website continues to grow and develop to support collaboration and student interest groups, to share stories and bridge the gap between students and OCA HQ. We look forward to bringing more student voices to the community no matter how much time and energy you have to give and to embrace diverse points of view and lived experiences.