Organized by the English Language Teaching Unit of the University of Visual and Performing Arts, the exhibition and show ‘Poetics of the line through English’ turned out to be a tremendous success. This colourful event was definitely one-of-a-kind in the sense that it resulted from the original idea of showcasing the manner in which the teaching of English was done by integrating elements from the UVPA undergraduates’ main subjects- the visual and performing arts streams.
The exhibition event included a large collection of illustrated English story books which were original creations of the Visual Arts undergraduates. Just as a series of points are connected through the use of a line, the picture story books created by the visual arts undergraduates’ evolved from words joined to make phrases and clauses carrying original stories written in English. These books included beautiful graphical images apart from the textual narratives all created by the students themselves.
The shadow art show projecting original stories on the gallery walls accompanied the students’ voices narrating the incidents in English. Here, a series of mini-video clips projected on the gallery walls demonstrated the manner in which shadow art was used to depict stories with the narrative being presented by the students in English.
Also, the musical item consisting of a relay of songs sung in different languages, including the chorus for each song being sung in English, were sung by the Music faculty students belonging to different departments such as the Western Music, South Indian Music, North Indian music, Musicology and Ethnomusicology. The fusion of melodies in English, Sinhala, Tamil, Malayalam and Hindi demonstrates how English language learning in UVPA integrates English songs for purposes of teaching English. Moreover, by singing in five different languages and vocalizing the chorus of these songs in English the undergraduates’ depicted how English acts as the connecting line that unites the different languages, i.e., the “lingua franca”.
The fusion dance performance choreographed by Senior Lecturer Palika Samanthi commenced with an English presentation of the different traditions that were used as the basis for this creation. The dance item beautifully and vividly portrayed steps from Kathak dance and free style movements.
According to Jerzy Kosinski “The principles of true art is not to portray but to evoke”. Hence, this activity, initiated by the ELTU evoked multiple sensitivities in the audience as a result of the demonstration of the artistic talents and English communication skills of the UVPA students.
The “Poetics of the Line” materialized as a result of the conceptualization of its main organizers Sumudu Embogama (Head of the ELTU, UVPA) and Semini Samarasinghe. The staff members of the ELTU, including Senior Lecturer Ajantha Norishani, and Instructors- Sivaji Saambavi, Wayanthi Egodage and Suvini De Silva contributed significantly to the success of this event as members of the organizing committee. The Vice-Chancellor of the UVPA, Snr. Prof. Sarath Chadrajeewa fully supported and encouraged the ELTU to organize this exhibition.
The event was held at the JDA Art Gallery of the University and the Chief Guest for the event was Prof. Dikushi Wettewa, Professor in English attached to the Department of English Language Teaching, Faculty of Humanities, University of Kelaniya. The Guests of Honour were Dr. Sashinie Thenabadu ( Head, ELTD, University of Colombo), Mr. Mahesh Salgado (Head, ELTU, University of Peradeniya), Snr. Lec. Chiltus Dayawanshe (Dean, Faculty of Music), Dr. Priyantha Udagedara (Dean (acting), Faculty of Visual Arts). In addition, the University’s SDC Director, IQUA Director, AHEAD Project Director, CODL Director, Librarian (acting), Heads of Departments, academic staff members, executive staff members and students graced this unique, memorable and educational event.