Every once in a while we rearrange the furniture in our house, by Oliver Cameron-Swan
Published on 19.02.20
Every once in a while we rearrange the furniture in our house. We live in quite a small cottage and this has been a habit for years. It’s a habit that I trace back to my childhood, and we do it as a way of making the best use of the available space that we
Every once in a while we rearrange the furniture in our house. We live in quite a small cottage and this has been a habit for years. It’s a habit that I trace back to my childhood, and we do it as a way of making the best use of the available space that we have
This is a process that we find opens up new opportunities. It changes the way we think about how our home works, and the results often fall into a winter or summer configuration depending on how much we want to interact with the outside world.
This is also an activity that we can feel coming on, much like seasonal change, and is usually (but not always) a recurring topic of discussion. Sometimes you come home and find that everything has been moved around. Sometimes you’re the one doing the moving.
Recently I started looking at the photography studio spaces in our college in a similar way and thinking about them as teaching spaces. I’ve been making minor alterations to these rooms for a while now, rearranging the space to adapt to changes in our equipment or course requirements. A couple of years ago we decided to keep the display boards from the degree show throughout the year and removed the largely redundant security cage from one room entirely.
The most important thing that came out of this train of thought was that I wanted to see our studio spaces as busy, lively, vibrant rooms that would support a community of photographic practice. My current research has led me to look at the importance of the workshop in teaching and learning a craft (Sennett) and the value of encouraging students to take ownership of their learning (Coffield). Further to this a visit from educator Lou Mycroft and her presentation of Thinking Environment practice opened up a very practical and inclusive approach for how we could start to make these changes. I arranged a meeting to discuss this opportunity.
Imagine a debate between the management, teaching staff, and students on your course. What does it look like, how does it sound, how would it feel?
We had this meeting over a lunchtime a couple of days ago, in the space I wanted to talk about. Who would have thought that this group discussion between photography staff, students and management would have been conducted in a polite respectful manner where everyone had their say on the matter without being overridden or interrupted. Everybody spoke. Thinking Environment practices are designed to enable this.
As the person bringing a question to the group it brings a funny mixture of excitement, much like the pre-flight nerves I always felt before a big photography shoot. “What would they say?” was my background thought. I am indebted to Sarah-Jane for acting as facilitator for this meeting. Feedback from our students indicates that this was really not what they were expecting, and that they “would never had been asked for their opinion at their previous college”. Everybody involved offered guidance, some of which agreed with what I was already thinking, some bought new ideas or concerns to the discussion. What we do next with these ideas will be the exciting bit.