Visual Representations of Multilingualism Exhibition

Annual Meeting of the British Association for Applied Linguistics, Manchester Metropolitan University, 29 – 31 August 2019

A selection of artworks submitted for the Visual Representations of Multilingualism competition were exhibited at the Annual Meeting of the British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL) at Manchester Metropolitan University from 29 – 31 August 2019. The works were shown digitally in The Cave, a Virtual Reality space in the Brooks Building, home of the School of Education and the Education and Social Research Institute. Details of the artists whose work was exhibited can be found in the exhibition guide here.

As part of the event, three of the artists who submitted work took part in an informal discussion with exhibition curators Louise Atkinson and Jessica Bradley about their practice and how their work engages with ideas of multilingualism, including with endangered languages, language as ancestral heritage and children living between languages. The participating artists were Elina Karadzhova (third prize), Yasmin Nicholas (longlist) and Linda Persson (first prize).

Elina Karadzhova’s work was entitled ‘Languages: Time Dreams Avatars’ and was based on materials created by children between 6 and 15 years old about ‘what it’s like to live in-between languages’.

Elina Karadzhova, ‘Languages: Time Dreams Avatars’, 2018

Yasmin Nicholas’s work engages with concepts of ancestry, identity, race and diaspora through mixed media.

Yasmin Nicholas, ‘I know who you are’, photograph with poem (2017)

Linda Persson’s practice is research based and she often works collaboratively with a range of disciplines to expand methodologies. The Light and Language project took place in a remote community in the Western Australia Goldfields desert area.

Linda Persson with Wongatha women Geraldine and Luxie Hogarth with parts of the community of Leonora, Desert of Eastern Goldfields, Australia, 2017

Competition organisers, Jessica Bradley (AILA Research Network for Creative Inquiry) and Zhu Hua (representing BAAL), also spoke about the competition process as part of the Local Organising Committee’s Invited Colloquium, ‘Perspectives on Multilingualism’, organised by Khawla Badwan and Pura Ariza.

With the artists’ permission, the three winning artworks (by Linda Persson, Gail Prasad, and Elina Karadzhova) were displayed on the conference programme. The exhibition was highlighted as a special feature of the conference.

The competition and exhibition were made possible due to the support of BAAL, who initiated the competition, publisher Multilingual Matters, and the School of Education at the University of Sheffield (who funded the artists’ attendance at the conference). The project was developed in collaboration between BAAL, the AILA Research Network for Creative Inquiry and Applied Linguistics and CuratorSpace who hosted the open call on its portal, enabling international engagement.

We would like to continue to tour the exhibition and will be showing it in Stirling (26-27 September), Sheffield (2 November) and Jyväskylä, Finland (18 – 22 November). If you are interested in showing the exhibition and hosting a discussion or event around it, we would love to hear from you. For more information please contact Jessica Bradley (jessica.bradley@sheffield.ac.uk) or Zhu Hua (zhu.hua@bbk.ac.uk).

For more information about the competition please see the following webpages:

Opportunity details: https://www.curatorspace.com/opportunities/detail/competition-for-visual-representations-of-multilingualism/2687
Further information: https://www.curatorspace.com/about/news/visual-representations-of-multilingualism-competition/40
Initiative summary: https://medium.com/soeresearch/visual-representations-of-multilingualism-bbe5b82378b4
Winners: https://medium.com/soeresearch/winners-announced-for-the-visual-representations-of-multilingualism-competition-801e8f66f3d4
BAAL news: https://www.baal.org.uk/2019/06/28/4163

Featured image: Gail Prasad, (inter)weaving repertoires, Mixed media collage, 2019