Today's blog post is written by Carlos Montoro, Research Associate in the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education & Language Studies at The Open University.
'A Stitch in Time' was an installation combining embroidering, cross-cultural conversations and film. This work drew upon Inma Álvarez and Carlos Montoro's AHRC-funded Language Acts and Worldmaking, both from The Open University — focusing on the transformative and pivotal role of language teachers as creative mediators between diverse languages and everyday cultures. The installation incorporated language teachers, embroiderers and visitors to create a garment during the week-long Who are we? exhibition on migration at Tate Exchange on 22-27 May 2018 while conversing about sayings and proverbs in different languages. The dialogues were filmed, resulting in a collection of anecdotes about sayings by visual ethnographer Marcia Chandra. The embroidery and sayings were then weaved together by textile artist Sonia Tuttiett, accompanied by a collective of embroiderers from East London Textile Arts.
For Inma and me, as part of our research project, the aim was to explore new pedagogical possibilities by breaking down and going beyond traditional classroom boundaries and rules. This was fully achieved in the case of the Spanish teacher featured in this video. Little did she know that as she was teaching others around the table about the Spanish saying that proclaims that every day is an opportunity to learn new things she was about to do just that, learn something new. It takes her a few seconds to realise that the French version of the saying for ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ mentioned in the conversation is a carbon copy of the Spanish one. Her face is priceless as she makes the discovery. We can only imagine that this experience has been repeated countless times over recent centuries in encounters between French and Spanish speakers. And it keeps adding weight to the wisdom that the initial saying carries – every day is indeed a chance to learn something new. We have to wonder though if everything new is good or not?