I recently got the assessment results from my second and final Level 2 course, Documentary, having passed Gesture & Meaning earlier this year.

I passed both with good marks, which pleased me greatly. I got 73% for G&M and 72% for Documentary. I am not writing about this here to be immodest – I want to extract and respond to some of the commentary (‘feed-forward’ in OCA-speak) for Level 3. Whilst I am no longer in the rabbit-in-headlights mode from the very start of Level 3, I continue to be intermittently stricken with self-doubt and lack of confidence in my ongoing work; the expectations feel higher at the same time as the framework feels looser. I am more in charge of what I want to work on and how I want to work on it, but am still at a stage where I’m not particularly happy with my own work and compare myself unfavourably to others.

Anyway, going through the assessor commentary from the Level 2 mark sheets has two beneficial effects: firstly the general positive feedback soothes my fragile ego and reassures me that I Can Do This; and secondly the assessors often provide specific observations or advice that can help the inspiration flow and point me in the right direction for my current work.

Looking at the commentary per assessment criteria heading it became clear that certain potted phrases are used, as three out of the four were identical! So it’s more insightful to look at the free text commentary at the end.

Highlighting in the text that follows is my own, to pick out the words that I’d like to keep in mind for my ongoing practice:

Gesture & Meaning

  • This is very professionally presented submission, showing great attention to detail and pride with your work. Your professionalism with your physical submission is also reflected in your presentation (Assignment 5) where you evidence your sophistication and fluency with the subject matter, and your ability to apply this knowledge to your own practice.
    • I have a reputation for professional presentation to uphold!
  • It will be good to see you continue to explore more challenging and sophisticated ideas, as you have with the ‘calendar’ assignment, where you took the opportunity to take a creative brief and really make it your own. Continue to experiment and push the creativity of your practice forward, paying close attention to how you contextualise your work.
    • Two takeaways from this: firstly that it validates my conscious decision to become more visually experimental, something that I took into Assignment 5 of Documentary and continue to develop at Level 3; secondly the continuing importance of contextualising the work
  • Maintain your level of curiosity in terms of your research and continue to invest time within the written component of future modules.
    • Curiosity is an interesting point; I like to make work about subjects that I don’t necessarily understand inside-out, and use photography as a way of investigating them; I need to make sure I don’t lose this curiosity


  • The consistency and design of submission presentation was impressive and should be commended. As a very easy to navigate sample, viewed in conjunction with the well designed blog, a clear overview of the module creative output could be explored.
    • Again I find that I have set the bar high for myself in terms of presentation and must ensure that I keep it up
  • The sample prints presented were of a high standard, as an edited selection of the wider submission. The subjects explored within each assignment were valid and meaningful, being handled with an incisive and often playful gaze.
    • Incisive and playful – good adjectives; I would be happy to earn a reputation for the combination of these two
  • The written (and illustrated) text for assignment four, was well structured, referenced and made an interesting read in relation to the use of metaphor and metonym within image making. The conclusion presented here really offered an opportunity for you to identify your own critical position in relation to both visual communication devices.
    • Good feedback that bodes well for Contextual Studies, hopefully; in particular I need to maintain the focus on identifying my own critical position rather than being overly descriptive
  • The final assignment was a unique graphical representation of a serious contemporary debate and again, was playful in its presentation. The success of this submission should be viewed positively in relation to progression onto level 3 of the programme, but be careful of becoming too formulaic in terms of future submissions.
    • Playful comes up again, and again I like that this is potentially coming through as part of my personal voice; the word came up in my last tutorial with Wendy for BoW… we discussed how playful doesn’t need to mean shallow or frivolous, and is a valid approach to making art
    • I am slightly puzzled by the advice to avoid becoming too formulaic as I felt that overall the assignments were quite an eclectic set, and A5 in particular was visually very distinctive – and so don’t consider my output to have been formulaic (if it means for the future, then fine – I’m not planning on using the pie chart construct again any time soon…)

I’ll come back and re-read this whenever my confidence wanes… :-)