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Keeping Guernesiais alive

Keeping Guernesiais alive

Sunday 04 October 2020

Keeping Guernesiais alive

Sunday 04 October 2020

Visitors to Guernsey Museum will be able to hear the words of some of the last native Guernesiais speakers, in a new exhibition which aims to keep the island's language alive.

'Voice – Vouaïe' will feature 105 portraits of people who grew up with the language, along with audio recordings from each participant.

The display will be accompanied by a listening station, where visitors can sit down and focus on 16 participants talking in or about the language.

The exhibition is a partnership project between Guernsey Museums and photographer Aaron Yeandle, which began back in November 2018. Most of the work took place throughout 2019 - the year classified by the United Nations as the 'International Year of Indigenous Languages'.

To be involved in the project, participants had to have grown up in an environment where Guernesiais was spoken. Some still speak the language daily, while others hardly use it all and some are rediscovering it.


Pictured: The exhibition will go on display at Guernsey Museum.

Mr Yeandle took photos of the people in their own homes, while language consultant Yan Marquis recorded audio.

"The portraits and the audio provide a snapshot, an invaluable record of the language and will be used in teaching and learning now and in the future," explained Acting Head of Heritage Services, Helen Glencross.

An exhibition of the portraits was originally planned at Beau Sejour in July, but had to be delayed because of the pandemic.

However, also due to covid-19, the exhibition was able to fill a last minute slot in the Candie Museum's schedule. It will occupy two galleries; the Brian White Gallery and the Guernsey Arts Commission's Greenhouse Gallery. The portraits will then be kept in the museum archive and will be available for loan to other places in the island and further afield.

The exhibition opens on 9 October and will run until 31 December. The museum is open every day from 10:00 until 16:00 and entry is £6.50 per adult, or free with a Discovery Pass.

Pictured top: Image from aaronyeandle.com.

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