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Island’s Patois speakers immortalised in stamps

Island’s Patois speakers immortalised in stamps

Tuesday 05 April 2022

Island’s Patois speakers immortalised in stamps

Tuesday 05 April 2022


A new stamp collection celebrating the lives of local Guernesiais speakers was unveiled at Candie Museum yesterday as part of the audio-visual Voice-Vouaïe art project.

The recording of the ancestral language of Guernsey was delivered in partnership between photographer Aaron Yeandle, Language Consultant Yan Marquis and Guernsey Museums.

Mr Yeandle said the collection would not only help celebrate Patois, but also the individuals photographed on the stamps who have passed away.

He added that the stamp launch was “quite an emotional experience” for the families of those in the portraits but hoped the entire project would help to preserve their memories and unique talents.

Bridget Yabsley, head of philatelic at Guernsey Post, said they had commissioned a local designer, Joe Smith, to produce the collection.

“The stamps look wonderful. Guernsey Post are really pleased with them,” she said.

Each stamp is also scannable using a smartphone app allowing the user to hear Guernesiais spoken by the person featured in the portrait.

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Pictured: at the time the pictures were taken, some still spoke Guernesiais daily, others hardly at all and a significant number were rediscovering it.

Mr Yeandle introduced the evening on behalf of the project partnership team, who said that the work was three years in the making.

“It’s a real honour,” he said, “the aim was to try and capture the language through imagery."

Mr Yeandle said he approached Ms Yabsley, the main coordinator, about a year ago to see if there was any appetite to feature their work on a stamp collection.

“The main aim is to have an archive for the future and keep the momentum of the project going,” he said.

“The pictures were already gathered from the initial exhibition and book."

The stamps are available to purchase in all post offices, online, and will soon be available from the Museum. 

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Pictured: Jamie Louglin (left), and Aaron Yeandle were instrumental in delivering the Voice-Vouaïe project.

Work on the project itself began in November 2018 and it ran into 2020. Much of the project took place in 2019, which was UNESCO’s International Year of Indigenous languages. 

Mr Yeandle highlighted that the original idea for the exhibition came when Jamie Loughlin asked him if he had interest in a Patois project. This was based on the strength of Mr Yeandle’s previous portrait work.

He said the timing couldn’t have been better for the project: “it coincided with the States’ resolution to preserve the language, and the audio recordings were done simultaneously to the photographs”.

In August 2020, the States Assembly voted to establish a Guernsey Language Commission to help “halt and reverse” the decline of the island’s native tongue.

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