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Visual Communication (MA)

Ollie Cameron

I am an illustrator currently studying MA Visual Communication. My practice investigates the creative intersection between research fields, from science and health, to archaeology and anthropology. I believe that collaborative and experimental approaches to drawing can create a shared language across multiple disciplines, with the aim to make research more accessible. My current work at the RCA brings into question the layered relationship we have with heritage and landscape.

I was awarded the Gordon Peter Pickard Drawing Prize, which I used to make a journey down the oldest road in Britain, The Ridgeway. Along the 87 mile trail I used mark making as a tool to visualise memories of the trail spanning 5000 years, from travellers and ramblers to archeologists and anthropologists. 

In 2022 I was awarded the RCA Pokémon Scholarship.

Picture is an arial photograph showing a long scroll of paper on a dirt track. A figure is crouched over the paper making marks.

The language used within areas of research across the arts, sciences and humanities has traditionally been inward facing. Experimental drawing can diversify this language and offer a collaborative vernacular to help describe the complex social topics of our time. Visual mark making creates bridges between disciplines, draws parallels, redefines terms, and expands traditional research modes into a broader dialogue. 

At the RCA, I have investigated how visual mark making can be used to question themes of heritage and landscape. This has been focused on a journey down the oldest road in Britain, The Ridgeway. For me, drawing is a way to combine material mark making, process, methodology and site. It is a form of excavation, through which topics of land ownership, memory, and unseen boundaries are brought to the surface.

The indelible imprint we leave on the landscape and the imprint the landscape leaves on us is a universal part of being human. At a time where we are becoming increasingly disconnected from the world around us, finding alternative ways of viewing heritage and re-mapping our relationship with the landscape is arguably more important than ever.

The Ridgeway - A film documenting a journey down the oldest road in Britain questions our layered relationship with landscape, tackling themes of heritage, unseen borders and memory.
A photograph shows a long scroll of paper on a dirt track. The scroll is being drawn on by a figure crouched down.
The Ridgeway - My research investigates the imprint we leave in the landscape and the imprint the landscape leaves on us. Over time, stories spanning 5000 years have been embedded in The Ridgeways' soft chalky soil. One way of recording these stories are through rubbings of the imprint we leave behind.
A black and white image shows intricate pattens of bicycle tires, footprints and tire marks imprinted into the soil.
The Ridgeway - A process image showing the layering of different stories on the trail. A footprint, a bicycle tire, farm machinery. These overlaps reflect the many ways The Ridgeway is used. Some of these usages coexist, while others obscure each other in direct conflict.
Storyboard of final film
The Ridgeway Storyboard - The film looks at The Ridgeway in three chapters. Each chapter is accompanied with an interview with someone who has a close connection to the site.
Photograph of an archeological excavation. A figure in a trench walks away from the camera holding a bucket
The Ridgeway - The project was informed by the excavation of an ancient neolithic structure discovered at my childhood home.

The Ridgeway

The oldest road in Britain weaves through the south of England like a sentence written by many hands. The Ridgeway is the site of rituals and ramblings, protests and parties. It has stories spanning 5000 years etched into its chalk surface. To some it is a place to escape to, and for others it is their home. The 87 mile trail is punctuated with fences and forests, standing stones and stiles, borders and boundaries. A dark entrance of an ancient tomb looms like a question mark. A stile becomes the threshold between places, like a comma. Barbed wire - fullstops. Keeping some things in. And others out. Each of these punctuation marks shape the landscape's grammar; its ownership and access, freedom, and restriction. 

My work investigates how drawing methodologies can be used to reflect these many voices layered within the landscape. I designed a scroll box to document visual experiments while walking The Ridgeway. The portable box contains a vertical 87 metre scroll of paper. On this surface I could generate marks through gathering materials local to the landscape. Rubbings of an ancient stone, ink from a blackberry bush, A plant pressing from a freehold border. Chalk from under my feet. The drawings can either be viewed as fragments like a film negative, or unravelled like a winding path, stretching out into the future and back into the past. 

My research this year culminates in a film that intertwines personal experiences with local voices to The Ridgeway. These voices speak directly to themes of home, belonging and how the past brushing against the present can help us look to the future. The film looks at the path through three lenses.

Right of Way, Right to Roam, Rite of Passage.

Two scans of a scroll show marks made by rubbing tree bark with graphite. A black paint splatter is created by dancing leaves
Scan of wooden box showing illustrations
3 horizontal strips of a long drawing scroll show marks made through rubbings, foraging, and other generative marks
Collage of architectural and abstract mark making
Long Scroll of paper shows expressive black and white drawings and notations

In 2022 I was awarded the Gordon Peter Pickard Drawing Prize at the Royal College of Art. This grant allowed me to begin my research into The Ridgeway by funding a long walk down the Trail. Over several nights I camped along the route, mapping, gathering, foraging, talking and walking. The Ridgeway became a site I returned to throughout the year, and through the travel grant I was able to meet travellers, ramblers and archaeologists who all informed my practice of experimental drawing.

I developed the drawing scroll box as part of my initial walk down The Ridgeway. Like film negative, the drawings could either be viewed in isolation, or unravelled as part of a larger whole. Drawing in this way allowed me to start highlighting the rhythms of the trail. The pattern of my walking, the bouncing of the box on my knee, the snippets of conversation and aching feet are all captured on the box.


born (2022) out of love of biscuits and chatting, is a monthly reflective publication from the Visual Communication BR13 studio at the Royal College of Art. We create content based on the collective theme of the month – designed, collected, and shared on a single piece of paper.

Previous issues of Digestive include Digestive, Tunnelling, Leftovers, Collective Mapping and Crusty Sunburn where we explore the gut, crumbs of conversation(s), parasites, tunnel-vision, pockets, the weather, rock pools, tubes, ideal holidays, nostalgia and revel in the sharing of nan’s recipes.

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