Project 3 – Photographing the Unseen

This exercise looks at three OCA students, who use metaphor to portray the ideas in their personally driven projects.

Peter Mansell suffered a spinal chord injury as a result of a traffic accident when he was 20. He has spent much of his life using a wheelchair. His project explores the affect his injury has had on his everyday life.

Dewald Botha is a South African living in China. Often feeling like an outsider, he found the busyness and intensity of living in China smothering. Ring Road looks at places of peace in an otherwise difficult landscape.

Jodie Taylor explores nostalgia by revisiting scenes from her youth in her series, Memories of Childhood.

Which of these projects resonates most with you, and why ?

I first came across Peter Mansell’s series a year ago in the form of a ‘Student Work Uncovered’ video by OCA tutors Jesse Alexander and Sharon Boothroyd. Of the 3 projects explored here, Mansell’s is the one that resonates most with me. I find this series to be thought provoking, and I can’t help but feel sympathy for Mansell.  Not having first hand experience, the series gives me a glimpse into the daily routines and challenges that a wheelchair user faces. In the interview in the course text, Mansell has a very interesting comment, where he describes how he became ‘attracted to speaking visually about things that were important’ to him, resulting in ‘images that were often much more mundane in terms of subject matter’. The individual images may contain a mundane subject matter, but when the images are put together as a series and given a context, such as Mansell’s personal experience living with a disability, the series becomes something greater than a collection of images. Together they become something that has the power to make me stop and consider the daily struggle of someone else. While Mansell’s series is contributing to my development as a photographer in the use of narrative, his storytelling has had a positive effect on his life dealing with his injury. Mansell says that he found that the process of creation often saw him through pain and anguish, with the end result acting as a visual statement about his existence and experience, objectifying it and allowing him an emotional release.

How do you feel about the loss of authorial control that comes when the viewer projects their own experience and emotions onto the images you’ve created ?

There is very little I can do about what the viewer may project onto my work as a result of their experiences and emotions. When I view the work of others, my experience and emotions effect how I read the images. I believe that loss of authorial control is part of the parcel when putting work out in the world.


Boothroyd, S. (2013) ‘Photography and Nostalgia’, WeAreOCA [online], 5 Aug, available: [accessed 6 May 2015].

Botha, D. (2013) Dewald [online], available: [accessed 6 May 2015].

Open College of Arts (2013) ‘Student work uncovered: Peter Mansell’, Student work uncovered series

, available: [accessed 6 May 2015].

Taylor, J. (2013) Jodie Taylor OCA Learning Log [online], available: [accessed 6 May 2015].


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