Online Fine Artists come together for Spring Symposium

26 June 2023

Digital collage by artist Adam Chodzko
Adam Chodzko 'woven time - a girdle of fig leaves' 2021

Adam Chodzko 'woven time - a girdle of fig leaves' 2021

The first ever Spring Symposium, bringing together Fine Art MA (Online) students, staff from across Falmouth School of Art and visiting artists, took place online this May.  

The inaugural Spring Symposium event, which was entitled ‘Distance … Learning’, featured an array of lectures and talks, workshops, immersive experiences and Q&As, all taking place live over Teams and exploring the idea of learning and making art collectively at a distance – a central concern of the master’s course, which now has almost 100 students enrolled globally.  

The keynote lecture was delivered by Yvette Mutumba and Julia Grosse, who talked about their work developing contemporary visual arts platform Contemporary And (C&). Their lecture explored decentering knowledge through online networks of artists working across Africa and Latin America. 

Artist Steve Rowell joined the symposium to give a talk about his projects. He spoke about ‘Points of Presence’, a photographic journey capturing sites on either side of the North Atlantic, including Cornwall, where submarine telegraph and telephone cables emerge from the ocean floor. Steve previously presented the project at PK Porthcurno in 2018 for Groundwork, a three-year programme of exhibitions and events presenting acclaimed international art works across Cornwall. 

Speaking from a studio in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, artist Adam Chodzko – who is working there with the support of a British Council 'Connection Through Culture' grant – led an experimental discussion about how artists might all share work and ideas with each other at a distance and how remote communication might become a collective experience. 

Elsewhere in the programme, the group gathered for an evening event entitled ‘The Listening Hour’. Artist Susanna Davies-Crook, Head of Growth at Ignota Books, led the group in a sonic mediation devised by pioneering musician and composer Pauline Oliveros. O YAMA O co-founder Rie Nakajima and Keiko Yamamoto – an artist working with voice, sounds, songs, body movement and drawing – also joined ‘The Listening Hour’ for a live improvisation, followed by a Q&A session.  

The online symposium also featured interactive artist-led workshops. Nicola Singh led an introduction to performance-making techniques through a range of somatic breath-work and meditative exercises. Two Falmouth Fine Art BA(Hons) lecturers also delivered workshops: Ben Sanderson delivered a drawing and painting workshop, inviting the group to think about domestic space as a site of art making and installation, and Maria Christoforidou led ‘a workshop of potential erotics’, drawing on experimental writing techniques to explore erasure and its opposites.  

As one of the event organisers, artist and Fine Art MA (Online) course leader Josie Cockram reflected on the symposium: “Over three days, we thought about learning and making art together at a distance, and of course that togetherness at a distance defines our course community and teaching methodologies. So, we want to send huge thanks to the brilliant artists and guest speakers who joined us to share their work and helped us think about presence, looking, listening, and decentering our knowledge.” 

The symposium was well-attended by students from across the Fine Art MA (Online) community, as well as students on Photography MA (Online). On their experience, student Rossand Weksler said: "I really enjoyed how easy going and open-ended the symposium was, yet at the same time I felt very connected to the experience. I also found it refreshing to be in a group where all comments were welcome.”  

Fellow student Marina Burgess added: “I was impressed by how much care was taken in the symposium’s design and delivery. I felt very welcome and that my input and attendance was valued.” 

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Top image: Adam Chodzko, 'woven time - a girdle of fig leaves', 2021.

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