Published On: February 21, 2022589 words3.5 min read

As artists, we understand the influence of language on our creative expression. Every stroke of the brush, every lyric penned, and every sculpture molded is a testament to the richness of our cultural heritage and the diversity of human expression. On International Mother Language Day 2022, we came together to celebrate the beauty and significance of linguistic diversity, recognizing its vital role in shaping our identities and fostering understanding among communities worldwide.

I had the privilege of participating in the Mother Language Public Art Project alongside talented artists from diverse cultural backgrounds. Together, we embarked on a journey to honour the multitude of languages spoken around the globe and to create a symbol of unity and inclusivity. Our collaborative efforts culminated in the unveiling of a breath-taking sculpture situated in the vibrant city of Melbourne, Australia.

The Mother Language Public Art Project serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of preserving and promoting indigenous languages, many of which are at risk of being lost forever. Language is not merely a means of communication; it is a repository of history, culture, and tradition. Each dialect carries with it a unique worldview, a distinct way of understanding the world and our place within it.

Through our art, we sought to amplify the voices of those whose languages have been marginalized or silenced, offering a platform for their stories to be heard and celebrated. The sculpture stands as a testament to the resilience of linguistic diversity, inviting viewers to reflect on the beauty of language and the profound connections it forges between individuals and communities.

In a world that often feels divided, International Mother Language Day serves as a beacon of hope, reminding us of the common humanity that unites us all. By embracing linguistic diversity, we can foster a sense of belonging and acceptance, paving the way for a more inclusive and equitable society.

As artists, we have a unique opportunity to contribute to this global dialogue, using our creativity to bridge cultural divides and promote mutual respect and understanding. Through our work, we can inspire others to celebrate their own linguistic heritage and to embrace the languages and cultures of others with open hearts and minds.

Together, through art and expression, we can build a more harmonious and inclusive world for generations to come.

Location: Tarneit Community Learning Centre, 150 Sunset Views Blvd, Tarneit VIC 3029

‘Voice of the Land, Voice of the People, Voice of our Heart, Voice of Mother – Mother Tongue’ – Dr Vicki Couzens

Project Artist Team:  Vicki Couzens, Hilary Jackman, Sophie Lewincamp, Jeph Neale

Community Artists:  Koorrin Edwards, Abiola Akinbiyi, Skye Harrison, Mrinal Kanty Das, Ngun Bor Chin, Aye Min Htoo, Naw Say Htoo Eh Moero, Mark Htoosaw Kunoo, Eh Su, Alvin Dohnaytoo Htoosaw, Deborah Lupwaydoh Htoosaw, Dar Wi, Mae Sie,  Marie Pewhairangi, Beverley Hills, Te Rina Eruera, Ariana Chase, Divya Bahukhandi.

Artist Statement:

First Voice, the universal sounds of our Mother Earth. Sound is the beginning, Creation.  Sound resonates, is shaped by our speaking, our vocalisations. In this thinking I honour First People of Country, the kith and kin of the Creatures of the lands, skies and waters; Spirits of place and those others of our brothers and sisters in humanity, who have come to live here from other places.  It is our shared voices, our languages, our Mother Tongues that give agency to the sharing of our collective humanity; our lived experiences in this time, in times to come and the times that have been.’


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