‘Mother Language Public Art Project – Artist appointed’

Wyndham City is proud to announce the appointment of Gunditjmara Artist Dr Vicki Couzens as the lead artist on the Mother Language Public Art Project that will be installed at the Tarneit Community Learning Centre.

Voice of the Land, Voice of the People, Voice of our Heart – Mother Tongue is the proposed artwork that will inspire and inform the creative design and development of the new sculptural work.

The Mother Language Public Art Project is a response to the struggle for the recognition of language that ties in deeply with the Bangladeshi community in Wyndham.

Wyndham City’s Creative City portfolio holder, Cr Marcel Mahfoud, said: “Wyndham City has been working with the Victorian Bangladeshi Community Foundation for some time on a Public Art piece that pays homage to the importance of language and symbolises linguistic and language identity.”

“The Mother Language public art piece has been developed through a shared vision to build a diverse and inclusive community.”

More than 200 community members have been part of the consultation process and have provided feedback to inform and develop the artistic brief.

“The importance of Mother language resonates with all of us and this installation serves to express the significance of mother language and the role it plays in our culturally diverse community,” Cr Mahfoud said.

Ms Couzens has been a passionate advocate and community language worker in her Mother Tongue Gunditjmara language for more than 20 years, following in her father’s footsteps.

Ms Couzens is a Gunditjmara woman, Yoolongteeyt (cultural title) from the Western Districts of Victoria. She has worked in Aboriginal community affairs for more than 40 years.

Ms Couzens’ work encompasses language revitalisation, ceremony, community arts, public art, visual and performing arts and writing. She is a senior knowledge Custodian for Possum Skin Cloak Story and Language Reclamation & Revival in her Keerray Woorroong Mother Tongue. 

“Wyndham City values and appreciates the diversity of their residents and encourages them to celebrate their language and culture,” Cr Mahfoud said.

“This wonderful city is home to residents from over 162 different countries who bring with them different traditions, customs and languages that contribute to our city’s richness and vibrancy.”

Other Mother Language sculptures and artwork are located throughout the world including in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and statues in Tbilisi, Georgia and at the UN Headquarters in New York.

International Mother Language Day, first announced by UNESCO in 1999, was formally recognised by the United Nations General Assembly in 2002 and is held to generate awareness of cultural diversity and multiculturalism, forming part of the UN’s broader initiative “to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world”.

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