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Student Stories: Roger Rowley

Roger is a Devon based artist. Having retired from military service in 2022 he is now a full-time artist and, in his spare time, an exams invigilator. Roger is studying his final Stage 3 (HE6) course of the Painting Degree.


What is your previous educational experiences and what drew you to OCA?

In school I excelled in Art and Physical Education but I struggled with classroom based learning and thus, I left school with poor academic qualifications. Despite this, I embarked on a successful career in the British Army that spanned 40 years. Whilst still serving, from 2007 onwards, I began attending life drawing groups and short art courses at local colleges. Due to work commitments this was very ad hoc but it ignited my desire and passion for drawing and to cultivate a separate interest and distraction from my professional duties. The OCA offered a workable and flexible solution to studying, learning and gaining a qualification.

Can you describe your OCA journey?

Despite entering the degree course with a foundation of artistic ability, the learning curve proved steep, but so engaging that I found myself fully immersed from the outset. The emphasis on experimentation and pushing boundaries was integral to my personal development and self-reflection throughout the journey. I learnt that having preconceived ideas about any given project stifled creativity, which I often reminded myself of. That said, I now feel that I could have been more rigorous and rebellious in experimenting with different mediums during the early stages of my OCA journey.

What was the Tutor and/or Peer Support like on your course?

Tutors played a pivotal role in offering encouragement and motivation, gently challenging my ideas and thoughts when necessary to draw out the best in me. I can’t praise or thank them enough.

What does studying with OCA mean to you?

Studying with OCA has equipped me with a diverse array of tools crucial for my career as an artist. It has bolstered my confidence to participate in open calls and engage in discussions about my work with curators and gallery owners. Subsequently, this exposure has opened doors to new networks and opportunities, including requests for public talks and group exhibitions.

What's next?

I've had success in exhibiting through open calls and have been featured in two online art publications. My solo degree show is set to debut in April, followed by requests to deliver artist talks for both OCA and an independent gallery. I have also been invited to produce work for a group show in 2025.

Any advice?

Embrace the freedom to experiment offered by the course. Be bold, innovative, and embrace the unpredictable nature of creativity. Above all - enjoy it.


Follow Roger / Instagram: @rogerrowleyart

Roger has an exhibition on at the Old Brick Workshop Gallery, Wellington, Somerset TA21 9HW from the 20 - 27 April 2024 .

His series of works titled ‘Neither Here Nor There’ is informed by examining the value and meaning placed on everyday objects, particularly those that evoke memories of people, places or events. This interrelationship between objects and the act of painting explores how physical objects carry a persistence of the past into the present and how our attachment to such treasured possessions is a means to develop and maintain a cognitive sense of self.

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1 Comment

Emma Drye
Emma Drye
Apr 19

I hope the show goes really well Roger! I've really enjoyed watching you develop and look forward to seeing what the future holds for you as an alumnus.

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